Manchester United squad review – Who’d prosper from a loan move?

Jul 21, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; Manchester United midfielder Andreas Pereira (44) celebrates with forward James Wilson (49) after a goal against the San Jose Earthquakes during the second half at Avaya Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 21, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; Manchester United midfielder Andreas Pereira (44) celebrates with forward James Wilson (49) after a goal against the San Jose Earthquakes during the second half at Avaya Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

As games begin to come thick and fast for Manchester United, Louis van Gaal has found himself dipping into his youth ranks to fill match-day squads.

Jesse Lingard has nailed down a first-team spot after getting his chance in recent weeks, with van Gaal admitting that he’d taken his chance with both hands since coming into the team in place of summer signing Memphis Depay. The Dutch winger was dropped after poor form and with Ashley Young covering in defensive positions, Lingard has stepped in and made the role his own.

Axel Tuanzebe, the highly rated young central defender and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson have also made the match-day squads in recent games, with both starting on the substitutes bench. Borthwick-Jackson made his debut against West Brom in the 2-0 win at the weekend, with manager Louis van Gaal saying he had ‘no feat whatsoever’ about bringing the 18 year old left-back on, after a glowing review from youth team coaches Warren Joyce and Paul McGuinness.

With Andreas Pereira recently expressing that he’s waiting for his chance and James Wilson struggling to get any real action due to the form of Anthony Martial and the poor scheduling of the youth leagues, Louis van Gaal has a few decisions to make during the winter window about getting some youngsters valuable minutes on the football pitch.

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van Gaal admitted that Wilson’s situation would be reviewed in December with a loan move on the cards. Championship sides Derby County, Blackpool, Queens Park Rangers, Wolves and Brighton were all linked with a move for the 19 year old striker although after an injury to Wayne Rooney, van Gaal decided to retain his service just in case.

There were reports in the summer that a host of Premier League sides were willing to take him on loan too, although there were some concerns about the amount of playing time he would get there too. Wilson’s best chance of regular football and goals is to join a Championship side pushing for promotion. A lot of sides have firepower already, but Brighton are struggling. They are currently second in the table on goal difference but their top goalscorer has just five goals to his name. Wilson’s arrival would see a good side, playing good football and pushing for promotion where his arrival would be an upgrade and offers them something they need.

Another player struggling for minutes this season is defender Paddy McNair. The Northern Irishman has suffered a few injury problems as the season has progressed but with the form of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Daley Blind solid there isn’t a spot for him right now. After signing a new contract at the club, he was kept around in the summer to provide back-up but at his age he needs regular football to develop and improve. With the January window coming around, van Gaal could dip into the market and sign a defender as back-up for the next 18 months and allow McNair to join a Premier League side on loan.

Clubs like Bournemouth have a similar playing philosophy to van Gaal’s Manchester United, with possession being the key focus of their attacks. This sort of style will help him develop his passing and positioning, helping to prepare him for a future at Manchester United while also seeing him get regular football. Bournemouth have suffered a number of injuries this season so a loan move could be ideal for them and the player, with McNair staying in the top division and playing against the best.

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Andreas Pereira’s case is a tough one too. The Brazilian playmaker has made only a handful of appearances for the side but whenever he’s been called upon he’s impressed. His first start against Ipswich saw his score a beautiful free-kick, while his appearance in the draw to Middlesbrough showed that he isn’t afraid to defend when playing wide and can still cause a threat.

Despite this, the form of United’s attackers and the fact van Gaal has so many options has seen Pereira’s play-time limited. A loan move could be the perfect remedy for a player like Pereira, who seems like a lack of chance is all that is stopping him from making the step up at the moment. However, his relationship with van Gaal and the fact that he is so highly rated at Old Trafford make it hard to see him leaving.

The failed loan move of Adnan Januzaj could also make van Gaal and Pereira wary of any move away from Old Trafford unless first-team football is guaranteed so it may take a situation similar to Jesse Lingard’s to see the 18 year-old break into the first-team squad more regularly.

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Other youngsters such as Guillermo Varela, Sam Johnstone and Donald Love are no closer to a first-team breakthrough but are all at the stage where regular football will help them develop properly. Manchester United could ship all three out on loan deals to give them a chance of impressing, without really effecting the first-team squad too much in the process. With the lack of scheduling for the Under 21’s league, they wouldn’t be missed too much at that level anyway.