Manchester United‘s academy is probably most renowned for the “Class of ‘92” who progressed thanks to the late Eric Harrison and shone under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers all came through the youth ranks and enjoyed incredible first-team careers.
Man Utd have splashed the cash in the post-Fergie era, yet the record of an academy graduate being in every single matchday squad since October 1937 still remains.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hasn’t just got great results since replacing Jose Mourinho, United’s caretaker manager has also revived many aspects of the club’s culture and identity.
With that in mind, we’ve created a Man United XI entirely made up of current players who’ve come from the club’s academy system – and it’s impressive.
GK – JOEL PEREIRA
Joel Castro Pereira’s potential was summed up when his ex-boss and compatriot Mourinho called him the “best Portuguese goalkeeper of the next generation”.
The ‘keeper joined the club in 2012, quickly turned into a key member of the reserve side and starred as United won the 2015-16 under-21 league title, whilst also impressing in loan spells.
Despite being back up to David de Gea and Sergio Romero, Pereira has played three times for Man Utd’s senior team and kept a clean sheet on each occasion.
Veteran Lee Grant was signed last summer so that the 22-year-old could experience playing week-in week-out this year – first at Vitoria Setubal and now with KV Kortrijk.
RB – TIMOTHY FOSU-MENSAH
Timothy Fosu-Mensah moved to Old Trafford from Ajax in 2014 after catching the eye at the AEGON Future Cup and is one of the biggest talents to come through the ranks of late.
Louis van Gaal rewarded the powerhouse with his debut in February 2016 against Arsenal and he’s gone on to play 21 times for the club so far – including an FA Cup semi-final.
Fosu-Mensah can play at right-back, centre-back and defensive midfield, and he’s been out getting valuable Premier League experience in the last two years.
The Dutchman featured 24 times on loan for Crystal Palace last term and, currently at Fulham, he’s played 11 matches as they desperately try to avoid relegation.
CB – REGAN POOLE
Regan Poole arrived at United from Newport County in 2015 for an initial £100,000 fee as a highly-rated prospect and he’s shown great signs ever since.
Good with the ball at his feet, the centre-back picked up a few red cards in Man Utd’s youth teams but the disappointment of subsequently missing big games helped him to learn.
After proving he was capable at under-21 level, Poole played 20 times on loan for Northampton Town in 2017-18 and was made United under-23 captain upon his return last summer.
The Welsh 20-year-old played every single game up until last month, when his strong displays earned him a loan move back to Newport, and he started their FA Cup tie with Manchester City.
CB – AXEL TUANZEBE
Since the mere age of eight, Axel Tuanzebe has been at Man Utd, he captained the under-18s, he’s played eight times for the first-team and developed into a versatile defender.
United’s 2014-15 Young Player of the Year and 2016-17 Reserves Player of the Year is mentally grounded, very strong for his age and, at 21, only going to get better.
Tuanzebe’s loan at Aston Villa last season ended prematurely due to injury but he impressed so much that they wanted him back for 2018-19, in which he’s made 19 Championship starts.
LB – DEMETRI MITCHELL
Like Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Marcus Rashford, Demetri Mitchell began his youth career at Fletcher Moss Rangers before joining Man United.
During his time at the club, Mitchell has changed from a winger to a full-back and his regular supply of goals and assists as a defender turned him into a star for the reserves.
The homegrown youngster’s United debut came on the final day of the 2016-17 season and over the past year the 22-year-old has gained valuable first-team action on loan at Hearts.
In that time, Mitchell overcame a serious meniscus tendon injury and has already played 23 times for the Scottish club this term, suggesting his future is full of promise.
CM – ANDREAS PEREIRA
After successful spells in Spain with Granada and Valencia, Andreas Pereira is finally enjoying a full year as a Man Utd first-team player, featuring 15 times so far (28 in total).
Andreas was signed from PSV Eindhoven back in 2012 and shone at every youth level, notably winning the Player of the Tournament as he captained United to Milk Cup success in 2013.
The 23-year-old, who was the star of United’s 2018 pre-season tour of America, emerged as a skilful number ten but has now transitioned into a central or deep-lying midfielder.
This season has shown that Pereira just needs to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League because besides that, he has the technical ability of a classy playmaker.
CDM – SCOTT MCTOMINAY
It’s during his time in United’s academy that Scott McTominay converted from a striker to a central midfielder and that’s the position in which he broke into the team.
The current Scotland international overcame growth issues to make his United debut in May 2017 and established himself under Mourinho in 2017-18, making 23 appearances.
McTominay isn’t spectacular but he’s steady, eager to learn, keeps things simple and his willingness to carry out specific instructions is what earned him Mourinho’s trust.
The 22-year-old had struggled for game time with Solskjaer but his recent displays are proving he could grow into a Darren Fletcher-type member of the squad.
CM – PAUL POGBA
Paul Pogba spent around three years as a key figure in the academy before becoming the “one that got away” when he left for Juventus in 2012.
Whilst gaining regular top-flight action, he won four Serie A titles in a row, four other trophies, played in a Champions League final and became a top-class playmaker in Turin.
Since returning to United in 2016 for a then-world-record fee, Pogba’s produced glimpses of his true potential but been criticised for inconsistency and not influencing the biggest games.
However, the 26-year-old has silenced his doubters by helping France win the 2018 World Cup and having a huge impact for Man Utd – especially under Solskjaer.
The talented midfielder has recorded 14 goals and 11 assists so far this term, and with his power, creativity, vision and technique, Pogba really can be the complete midfielder.
RW – JESSE LINGARD
Since the age of seven, Jesse Lingard has been at Man Utd and the academy product showed extreme patience before seizing his first-team chance – going on loan four different times.
He has played at least 40 games in each of United’s past three seasons and produced magical moments, from his stunning 2016 FA Cup final winner to moonwalking at the Emirates.
The 26-year-old is now a vital part of the squad and he’s importantly adding end product to his game too, with only Romelu Lukaku scoring more goals for the Red Devils in 2017-18.
England’s attacking midfielder can play centrally, in wider areas, his energy and movement off the ball is brilliant, and it’s clear to see Lingard brings good vibes to the dressing room.
ST – MARCUS RASHFORD
Only one man is taking the striker’s position in this XI and that’s 21-year-old Rashford – a United fan, “Manc born and bred” and proof that the academy still works.
He joined Man Utd’s academy system aged seven and simply hasn’t looked back since his unexpected first-team emergence in 2015 during Van Gaal’s tenure.
Rashford’s found the back of the net in pretty much every debut he’s had for club and country and has scored 44 goals in 161 games for United, despite being used a lot on the left-wing.
The England international, who’s performed excellently this season, possesses electric pace, he’s a much-improved finisher, not afraid to try things and on course to be a star.
LW – TAHITH CHONG
There’s been plenty of hype surrounding Tahith Chong for a while now and that’s only intensified in recent months, starting with his entertaining cameos back in pre-season.
The dynamic winger, whose hair makes him impossible not to notice, joined from Feyenoord in 2016 and has got people talking with several dazzling displays in United’s youth ranks.
Solskjaer gave Chong his Man Utd debut in the 2-0 FA Cup win over Reading in January and it was just a matter of time before the Dutch U21 international featured again.
The 19-year-old still needs time to develop physically but he trains with the senior boys all the time and United fans are expecting big things from this raw talent.
WHO MISSED OUT?
Mason Greenwood made waves by notching 29 goals in his first 22 games this season across three youth levels and Angel Gomes could also have been in this XI.
A lot of good things are being said about Jimmy Garner – with good reason – and the midfielder Solskjaer called the “next Michael Carrick” made his debut in the 3-1 win at Crystal Palace.
All in all, this XI and the crop of youngsters surfacing in the squad right now shows that United’s academy can still nurture talent that reaches the first-team.
What do YOU make of Man Utd’s best XI of players to come from their academy? Do YOU think any other club in Europe could equal this line-up of the same criteria? Drop YOUR thoughts in the comments box below!