Manchester United had their lowest-ever Premier League point total last season, but this did not affect the club’s industry-leading academy, which had an exceptional season, winning the FA Youth Cup.
A record-breaking 67,492 supporters watched the U18s win the Youth Cup at Old Trafford in May, and the Class of ’22 will go down in academy history alongside other graduates who have gone on to have successful careers.
Despite a turbulent previous decade for the club, the academy has remained one of the best in Europe, thanks to a combination of good, devoted coaches and the foresight to bring players in from abroad.
Alejandro Garnacho scored seven goals and provided three assists in the victorious Youth Cup campaign last year, but he was born in Madrid, not Manchester, and he was signed from Atletico Madrid in September 2020 with a future in mind.
Prior to signing Garnacho, the academy recruited Marc Jurado from Barcelona, Alvaro Fernandez from Real Madrid, and Isak Hansen-Aaroen that summer, as the club’s scouts sought to bring in some of Europe’s greatest talent.
Jurado, Hansen-Aaroen, and Garnacho were all key players in the Youth Cup victory, with the latter becoming a first-team regular, while Fernandez is flourishing on loan in the Championship.
The academy must develop the potential within Greater Manchester, but it is equally critical for the club to explore beyond that catchment region, which involves scouting junior talent from teams all around the world.
Garnacho, who has shocked coaches with the speed with which he has developed, is a prime illustration of the benefits of this, and perhaps Cardiff City striker Gabriele Biancheri will be the next to make his impact when his move to United is completed.
The Manchester Evening News reported last month that United had reached an agreement with Cardiff to sign Biancheri, who is said to have already passed his medical and is set to join the club as a scholar.
Biancheri had 17 goals and 10 assists for Cardiff’s Under-16s last season and has the potential to be an exciting addition after being suggested by Cardiff’s former academy chief, David Hughes, who joined United last summer.
Jurado, Fernandez, and Garnacho were given extensive English lessons as well as videos about the club and Manchester in order to help them assimilate from Spain in the summer of 2020, although Biancheri, who was born in Wales, will not require such assistance.
Biancheri has represented Wales at the youth level and is also eligible to represent England and Italy on the international stage. He’s been hailed as a ‘pacy, sharp, and energetic attacker’ who can play anywhere on the frontline, despite the fact that he only turned 16 in September.
Biancheri’s signing is another example of the academy preparing for the future, which offers them an advantage. Fans will be hoping that Biancheri continues to learn and has a great future if his arrival is made official.
United made the correct decisions with the additions of Jurado, Fernandez, and Garnacho, and the club is hopeful Biancheri will do the same.
With luck, the youthful striker will have a taste of Youth Cup victory in a few years.