NEXT BIG THING: Top 8 kids inside Man Utd youth system

tribalfootball.com’s next edition of ‘Next Big Thing’ takes a closer look at the most promising names currently on the books at Manchester United.

Continue reading to learn a bit more about our Top 8 coming out of Carrington and the Salford City Stadium in 2013/14.

Andreas Pereira

The Belgian attacking midfielder joined United from PSV Eindhoven in the summer of 2012 and quickly became a key academy contributor by captaining the club to the 2013 Milk Cup title.

Pereira is a creative player with sublime vision who is very adept from set-pieces and extremely comfortable in possession.

He has represented Belgium at youth level but would one day like to cash in his eligibility to play for Brazil, his country of birth, once saying, "My heart is Brazilian."

18-year old Pereira was an integral part of Nicky Butt’s side last season, playing every match of the UEFA Youth League, and also scored a stunning goal from 25 yards against Burnley in the FA Youth Cup.

Former United midfielder Butt, who coaches the U19s side, told the club’s official website that Pereira has so much potential to unlock in the next few years.

"Andreas is very highly thought of and is a lad who has got a lot of ability and potential. That's what it is at the moment – potential,” said Butt.

“We need to get the best out of him to make him a complete player. Something Andreas has got to work on is mixing his game up a lot more but he can look at Adnan Januzaj's progress because he's a great benchmark for all our young lads."

A real no.10 who likes setting up his teammates as well as scoring fabulous goals, Pereira is set to follow fellow countryman Januzaj into the United first team setup sooner than later.

James Wilson

England 19 international Wilson signed professional forms in 2012 after representing the Red Devils as a schoolboy.

The talented striker scored as a 15-year old on debut for the U18s and went on to tally 14 goals in 13 appearances last season, including five against Newcastle United, which was the second most in a academy match by a United player during Sir Alex Ferguson’s rein at Old Trafford.

Wilson, who has been made U19 skipper this term, was a handful for opposition defences during the UEFA Youth League campaign and has often drawn comparisons with ex-England, Liverpool and United striker Michael Owen.

U19s boss Butt was full of praise for Wilson after he scored in a UEFA win over Real Sociedad in August last year.

"James is a good player," Butt told MUTV. "We all have high hopes for him. He has phenomenal athleticism. He has good speed and he's a good finisher.

"He has all the attributes to be a top centre-forward. He just has to keep learning, keep working hard and keep working in games like this.”

Larnell Cole

20-year old Cole is a skilful talent who can operate on the right side of midfield as well as in a central attacking role.

Joining the United academy in 2009, Cole made his senior debut in a 3-0 League Cup win over Leeds United in September 2011, coming on for the final 13 minutes.

He also made it to Sir Alex Ferguson’s matchday squad for a Premier League fixture with Blackburn Rovers in December of the same year as well as sitting on the bench against Galatasaray in the Champions League almost 12 months later.

England U20 international Cole made a name for himself in Warren Joyce’s title-winning U21 side last season which alerted Championship club Derby County who were believed to be keen on a season-long loan this past summer.

This week reports suggested that Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen, who tutored Cole during his time at United, was pondering making a bid to bring the young gun to Craven Cottage on a permanent deal.

United legend Paul Scholes worked closely with Cole in 2011 in his role as reserve team assistant and suggested the youngster had a very bright future at Old Trafford.

"An excellent all-round footballer. He can play wide right, central midfield, he can probably play other positions, too,” Scholes told United Review.

“He’s just someone who’s supremely confident on the ball, capable of scoring goals, making chances and he has a chance of being a good player for us, I think. He’s really impressed me.

"The ball seems almost glued to his foot, he knows exactly where he is on the pitch – which is key for a midfielder."

Demetri Mitchell

The recently-turned-17-year old winger has been described on United’s official website ‘as a potential game-changer’ with ‘explosive pace’.

England U17 international Mitchell was a star for the England Schoolboys in the Victory Shield before being involved in United’s U18 and U17 sides last season.

Mitchell enjoys producing extraordinary pieces of play, such as his superb goal in the 2011 Aegon Cup against Bayern Munich, and can operate as a striker as well as on the left wing.

Ben Pearson

19-year old midfielder who has drawn comparisons with Scholes during the early stages of his career.

Pearson arrived at United back in 2004 as a kid and has gone on to work his way through the academy ranks to be named the 2012/13 Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year.

Last season was a stellar campaign individually for Pearson as he also captained the England U18 side and was involved in Joyce’s U21 setup.

Upon winning the award which has previously been clinched by the likes of Ryan Giggs, Scholes, Phil Neville and Danny Welbeck, Pearson said: "I'm really proud. We've had a long season but I think we've done well – apart from in the FA Youth Cup. It's been a good campaign really.

"Most of my game is really about tackling and breaking up the play. The club have been really good to me. I've been here since I was a kid really and am just doing the best I can to get this far.

"It's a massive inspiration to get to see the first-team players every day around the training ground and just seeing them walk around. It's dead good!"

Jack Barmby

The son of former England, Tottenham, Everton, Liverpool and Hull City midfielder Nick Barmby has been with United since July 2008 and has been making waves in the past few seasons.

Barmby, who operates as a striker, finished as the U18s’ leading scorer in 2011/12 with 13 goals which prompted a call-up to the England U19 side at the beginning of the 2012/13 campaign.

In June this year, Barmby was offered pro terms by United and is seen as a real first team prospect for the future, especially with his ability to drop into the midfield.

A player of raw talent who is capable of producing brilliance, as evidenced by his 2011/12 Milk Cup performances, he has begun to feature in Joyce’s U21 side this season and is expected to develop into a quality player for the Red Devils.

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson

Borthwick-Jackson is a fashionable defender who is rated highly by many involved with United’s academy.

The 16-year old left-footer, who turns 17 next month, has played for England at U17 level and operates mainly as a centre-half who can move to left-back if required.

The former England Schoolboy has been described by United’s official website as ‘elegant on the ball but a strong tackler’ and ‘a ball-playing defender with good stature and real presence’. He has been likened to current United veteran Rio Ferdinand by England U16 boss Kenny Swain.

In September last year, Borthwick-Jackson made his U21 debut despite being just 16 which suggests he plays with experience and a cool head beyond his years.

Saidy Janko

The gifted defender arrived at United on deadline day of the summer transfer window from Swiss club FC Zurich.

Janko is an 18-year old full-back, who can also play on the wing, of Gambian heritage who has played for Switzerland at U19 level and starred against the Red Devils in last season’s FIFA Blue Stars tournament which Zurich won in their home city.

He has already represented the club at U21, U19 and U18 level and his performances have certainly attracted praise from U21 boss Joyce.

"We saw him a couple of times out there and he played right-back, right-wing and also in a right-sided midfield role," Joyce told Inside United. "He did well in all three positions.

"He came over on trial and made the most of his opportunity. He's certainly a powerful boy. There are a lot of things that he has got to improve on but he is strong, quick and can go past people. He's got some raw materials that we can work with."

Additionally, Manchester Evening News journalist David Lynch had plenty of positive words to say about Janko.

"The 18-year-old is more (Paul) Pogba than (Ravel) Morrison, having joined the club only recently rather than progressing through the ranks,” he wrote in November.

"Yet he shares one key thing with both men: precocious talent.”

 
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