Tue. Oct 20th, 2020

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‘Huge potential’ of Facundo Pellistri as Man United look to the future

3 min read

Manchester United’s need for a right winger has been clear for some time and while they have missed out on top target Jadon Sancho this summer, it appears they have at least landed one.

Uruguayan winger Facundo Pellistri is believed to be on his way to Manchester, with the Reds close to agreeing a deal with Penarol for the transfer of the teenager.

Previously linked with a move to Manchester City , Pellistri is highly regarded in South American footballing circles, tipped to follow in the footsteps of countrymen Edinson Cavani, who is also set to arrive at Old Trafford, and Luis Suarez in proving himself at the top of the sport.

Pellistri is a winger who is most comfortable on the right side of the pitch and so he will give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer something he doesn’t currently have if involved in the senior set-up.

But the teenager isn’t a traditional winger in the way he plays the game. He isn’t one for bursting to the byline and stretching the pitch in a matter of seconds even though he has pace.

Instead, the Uruguayan is a creative wide man leading some to suggest his long term future might be as a number 10 rather than out wide.

Pellistri is a good passer and is tricky with the ball at his feet, averaging 7.86 dribbles per 90 with an impressive success rate of 50 per cent for Penarol last season.

As a flair player, Pellistri can be a rather frustrating figure, but the teenager’s decision-making will surely improve as he matures.

He still has the physical presence of a teenager and will have to bulk up to cope with the demands of the Premier League.

He will also have to refine his final ball if he is to truly flourish in English football. To date, Pellistri has charted an Expected Assist (xA) total of just 2.4 which ties in with his unremarkable return of just three assists.

These sort of numbers, even for a young player, won’t be tolerated at a club like Manchester United.

This summer, United targeted a new right winger to ease some of the burden on Mason Greenwood in that position.

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The arrival of Sancho would have allowed Solskjaer to rotate between the two without much concern of a drop in quality. Pellistri won’t help the Reds much in this regard.

Manchester United already have one raw, unpolished winger who struggles with his final ball in Daniel James. Solskjaer needs someone who can fill that position now.

For all that Pellistri is an exciting young prospect, he isn’t that player. He isn’t much compensation for the failure to sign Sancho. Not right now, anyway.

Nonetheless, former Manchester United forward Diego Forlan is convinced of Pellistri’s ability.

“Pellistri has huge potential,” he said. “There is still a lot to work on. He is growing and he makes the difference. We know it will be difficult to keep him for a long time. He has great pace and that is hard to handle.”

Pellistri was one of the breakout stars of the 2020 Copa Libertadores. That Manchester United identified him as a target indicates their scouting network has expanded over the last few years, with Real Madrid also credited with an interest in the Uruguayan teenager through the same scout (Juni Calafat) that unearthed Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior.

The Reds have put a lot of effort into identifying and signing talented young players from around the game – see Marc Jurado, Alvaro Fernandez and Joe Hugill, to name a few – under the radar and Pellistri’s arrival ties in with this.

He has been signed for what he could be in the future rather than what he is now.

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