With their focus firmly trained on this week’s Europa League final against Ajax, Manchester United fielded a side replete with talented yet inexperienced youngsters for the visit of Crystal Palace in the final round of Premier League fixtures last weekend.
Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Paul Pogba, Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard were the experienced heads, while José Mourinho gave debuts to four players aged 20 or under, with a further three players combining for less than 20 prior Premier League appearances
Here’s how the young prodigies fared against the Eagles.
Josh Harrop – 9/10
Showed supreme confidence in opening the scoring with a terrific solo run and finish.
The 21-year-old England under-20 International collected a Pogba pass wide on the left before dribbling inside, ignoring captain Rooney‘s plea for the ball, and smashing the ball home at the far post.
Aside from his goal, Harrop looked confident throughout and used possession well, completing 97.5 per cent of his passes and one take-ons.
Axel Tuanzebe – 8/10
Making his fifth senior appearance of the season, Tuanzebe was a relative veteran compared to many of his debuting team-mates for the visit of the Eagles.
The natural centre-back was one again starting in midfield for Mourinho’s men and looked completely at home.
The versatile 19-year-old kept it simple in the middle of the park and acted as a calming presence, completing a staggering 98.4 per cent of his passes.
Whatever transfer business the Red Devils do this summer, Tuanzebe has to remain a regular member of match day squads next term.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah – 7/10
— Timothy fosu-mensah (@tfosumensah) May 21, 2017
Having broken through under Louis van Gaal towards the tail end of last season, were it not for a shoulder injury, Fosu-Mensah would likely have occupied Tuanzebe’s slot in the starting XI over the last month.
Although his future may lie in the centre of midfield or defence, the powerful and athletic Dutchman added another solid outing to his copybook at right-back, making five tackles, four clearances and two interceptions.
Demetri Mitchell – 9/10
— Demetri Mitchell (@demetrimitche11) May 21, 2017
Like many of the youngsters getting a taste of senior action against Palace, at left-back, Mitchell was starting in a position that he would not perhaps consider his best.
More accustomed to playing further forward, the Manchester-born 20-year-old was electric in attack, using his pace and dribbling skills to get in behind the Eagles defence, while he stuck to his defensive tasks admirably and didn’t look at all out of place.
With five tackles, three interceptions, two clearances and three successful dribbles, Mitchell was dynamic and effective in all phases of play.
Granted, there was nothing at stake in the gam but it was arguably the best left-back performance we’ve seen from a United player this season.
Joel Pereira – 7/10
— Joel Castro Pereira (@ElgatoPereira1) May 21, 2017
Regarded by many as the future No.1 of the Portuguese national team and a reported transfer target for Benfica, Pereira was brought back from a loan spell with Belenenses in January to assume the role of the Red Devils’ third-choice goalkeeper.
Rarely troubled by Palace, the 20-year-old looked assured between the sticks and impressed with his sound handling and effective distribution.
Scott McTominay – 8/10
— Scott Mctominay (@mctominay10) May 21, 2017
At 6ft 4ins, it’s hard to miss McTominay in the middle of the park. The 20-year-old was making his second first-team appearance after featuring in the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal earlier this month and looked assured, technically sound and responsible in central midfield.
Stylistically similar to Michael Carrick, the youngster sprayed passes around the pitch with confidence, picking out a team-mate 89.6 per cent of the time and creating one chance.
His one take-on and seven ball recoveries demonstrated the variety in his game.
Angel Gomes – 7/10
Manchester United's 16 year old talent, Angel Gomes, is in line to make his first team debut and this is why.pic.twitter.com/Y6OyHiDxOR
— EiF (@EiFsoccer) May 20, 2017
There may have only been two minutes of normal time remaining when Gomes replaced Rooney to become the first player born in 2000 to play in the Premier League, but the exciting 16-year-old still managed to show everyone what all the fuss is about.
The diminutive winger was deployed on the left flank but immediately began to drift around the pitch to seek possession as much as possible, completing 12 of 13 attempted passes.
Regarded as the brightest prospect currently within United’s youth ranks, this was sure to be the fist of many Old Trafford appearances for Gomes.