The PFA Young Player of The Year is an accolade awarded to the most consistent, effective, and overall impressive young talent in English football. With the changing landscape of football over the years, an increasing number of managers have shown belief in awarding opportunities and actual first-team action to promising youngsters who either come up from the club’s youth academy and projects or elsewhere, that being said, it is no surprise that nurturing and developing the youth and turning them into the backbone of the first team is a long-standing Manchester United philosophy, with one of the finest youth academies in the world and a long list of graduates who have gone on to have spectacular careers. United also has a rich history of its’ players receiving the accolade, having the most wins of any Premier League club, at 8.
Arguably one of the most notable young performers in the 19/20 season has been our very own Mason Greenwood. Although he made his debut against Cardiff City last season, this is his first full year with the senior team and to say that it has been a breakout season is an understatement. Rising up the ranks at the youth academy, Greenwood burst on to the scene due to his goalscoring prowess for the youth ranks, and his time out playing for the senior team has only been reflective of the same. Having already scored a staggering 17 goals for the first team in all competitions, a feat that puts him in some seriously elite company, as club legends George Best, Brian Kidd, and Wayne Rooney are the only previous United players to reach that figure while still being a teenager. With at least one more game to go this season, the reverse fixture against LASK of Linsk, he will have an opportunity to add to his already impressive tally. He finished the Premier League season with 10 goals in 31 appearances, only 12 of which have been starts, the final one coming against the 1-1 draw at West Ham, putting him one ahead of Wayne Rooney’s 9 in the 2003-04 season. This impressive return at just 18 years of age makes Mason Greenwood a serious contender and a name that should be in the conversation about the best young talents in the league.
Greenwood’s two footedness has rattled every opposition manager and defender that has come across him as there has been absolutely no one to have come up with a game-plan to stop the young Englishman. Mason Greenwood is truly in a class of himself with levels of abilities and confidence that are rarely seen in young players deeming him to be a truly “ generational “ football player. Being a potent striker is not the only role Mason can perform on a football field, with will and valor in his stride he takes it upon himself as a responsibility to get the ball back and run on the counter, adding another dimension to his game which many strikers lack in general.
Apart from raking in the goals, the teenager has been receiving plaudits from icons such as Rio Ferdinand, and contemporary Marcus Rashford also had nothing but praise for his fellow Englishman, both making a similar journey on their ways to being starters for Manchester United. With his deadly finishing ability, composure and maturity on the field that far exceeds his age, his poacher abilities have seen fans and pundits alike to draw parallels to the likes of Robin Van Persie, which is no light work, with the Dutchman praising the young star as well. With many great young players in the league of late, there is always going to be stiff competition, with teammate Marcus Rashford himself being a serious candidate at just 22 years of age.
The likes of Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden, and Mason Mount have had breakout seasons too but Greenwood’s impact on United outclasses them all. Foden didn’t get as many chances as he should have in a star-studded Manchester City squad. Saka, from the left-back position, made headlines for Arsenal but failed to capitalize on a lot of opportunities. He faces tough competition with new signing Kieran Tierney and looks unreliable. While Mount stepped up as a no.10 for Chelsea in a beautiful fashion, he doesn’t guarantee goals that win games like Greenwood. The former Derby player has great potential but Greenwood edges him.
Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has for long been seen as the best U-23 performer in the league, helping his side to the trophy this season, Greenwood’s rise is special and should be noted as the next big thing in the Premier League.