Alejandro Garnacho grew up idolising Ronaldo but now trains with Messi

Man United starlet Alejandro Garnacho grew up idolising Ronaldo and sent fans wild by copying his ‘Siu’ celebration… the forward, 17, is yet to see first-team action but he’s already had an Argentina call-up and is picking Messi’s brains in training

  • Man United academy star Alejandro Garnacho has been called up by Argentina  
  • The forward has previously played for Spain, the country of his birth, at U18 level 
  • He can play for Lionel Scaloni’s men because his mother was born in Argentina 
  • He idolised Cristiano Ronaldo and copied his celebration earlier this season
  • But now he has been soaking in the wisdom of Lionel Messi in training this week  

Alejandro Garnacho’s name may have gone unnoticed among the 39 other names that were called up for Argentina’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Venezuela and Ecuador, but his call-up was arguably among the most telling.

The 17-year-old has yet to play a single minute for Manchester United’s first team but his call-up to the senior Argentina side demonstrates how he has caught Lionel Scaloni’s eye even at youth level.  

The call-up for the Madrid-born forward – which came about because his mother was born in Argentina – has seen him link up with the most iconic name in that 40-man provisional squad announced earlier this month in Lionel Messi.

Manchester United academy product Alejandro Garnacho has yet to play for the first team

He has been called up to Argentina senior team for their World Cup qualifiers, however

The United youngster was clearly left star struck, sharing an image with Messi on Wednesday night on Instagram, calling the forward his ‘idol’ in the post. And if that hasn’t got people talking, Garnacho is sure his general call-up has.

‘This [call-up] will get people talking about me but I’m still young and it’s the beginning of my career and I’m just focused on playing football and on improving,’ he told United’s official website.

The Red Devils fended off interest from Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund to sign Garnacho from Atletico Madrid in 2020 and he has gone on to star at U18, U19 and U23 level down the left-hand side of the attack.

This season, however, has seen him reach another level, helping the U18s reach the club’s first FA Youth Cup final – which they will contest against either Chelsea or Nottingham Forest next month – since their 2011 win against Sheffield United.

He posted a picture with Lionel Messi (right) and has been picking the PSG star’s brains

The 17-year-old has been rather prolific in the competition, netting five times in four games to go with three assists in their run to the final, which has included wins against Scunthrope, Reading, Everton, Leicester and Wolves.

This term, across all competitions – which include the Premier League 2, UEFA Youth League and the U18s Premier League – he has netted 11 goals combined with six assists in 28 games.

And it was in a brilliant solo goal against the Toffees U18s shown on MUTV where he paid tribute to his idol, Man United and Real Madrid legend Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Garnacho collected the ball deep inside United’s half before embarking on a 60-yard run, before entering into a foot race with the defender and, realising his route to goal was blocked, stepped inside instead to curl the ball into the far corner.

He then celebrated by copying Ronaldo’s trademark ‘Siu’ celebration, which he also pulled out after he came up with an 89th-minute winner in the quarter-final victory against Leicester.

The Everton solo goal was not the only extraordinary bit of play he has conjured up in the tournament, having netted with a bicycle kick in front of the Stretford End against Scunthorpe.

It is perhaps no surprise therefore that Spanish media described him as being ‘the jewel in the crown’ of the Atletico academy. 

He is technically gifted and has superb ball control, making him a nightmare to defend when he’s running at opposition’s backlines.

In front of goal he’s just as lethal and plays on instinct in and around the area. So much so that, whilst playing for Atletico’s Infantil B, he became Spain’s top goalscorer in 2016 as he tore defences in the youth league apart.

But his idol is Cristiano Ronaldo whose celebration he has copied after netting this season

Garnacho is predominantly right-footed but is comfortable on his left, allowing him that versatility when one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

While he is able to use his quick feet to beat defenders and round goalkeepers with ease, the teenager also has the knack of finding himself in the right spot at the right time, always hungry to pick up the scraps in front of goal. 

It is that sort of ability that made him one of seven uncapped players in the preliminary Argentina’s latest squad, the majority of whom hold dual-nationality but who the South American giants hope they can convince to opt to play for them.

Garnacho is of course one of those players, eligible to represent Spain after being born in the country’s capital and having represent La Roja at U18 level. 

‘I was born in Madrid, but my mother and her family are Argentinian. It will be an honour representing Argentina, just as it was at the time playing for Spain,’ Garnacho said.

He has scored five times in four games in Man United’s run to the FA Youth Cup final

The Albiceleste have already having qualified for the World Cup in Qatar this winter , allowing Scaloni room to use the upcoming qualifiers as an opportunity to give younger faces a taste of life as a senior Argentina international.

But Scaloni was keen to stress that none of the youngsters would be pressured into representing Argentina just because they had been called up, while insisting they have impressed the coaching staff.

‘These kids, no matter how much they play with the Argentine national team shirt tomorrow, they are not blocked to play with Argentina,’ Scaloni said via Mundo Albiceleste. 

‘We want these kids to come, to train with the Argentina U20 team, with the senior team, to see what the atmosphere with the Argentina national team is, the training ground at Ezeiza, and, in the next call-up, they have the opportunity to decide.

Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni insists the youngsters have impressed the coaching staff

‘These are kids that are good, who can make the leap in quality, and we can call them up, nothing else,’ Scaloni added. 

‘Seeing the conditions they have, we cannot look the other way, and we have to take advantage of the fact that they can play for our national team. We are very happy with how they have been.’ 

But having already talked with former Argentina stars – including one who played for Liverpool and Barcelona – it appears at the moment Garnacho has set his sights on becoming an Argentina regular.

‘Away from the club, I’m very grateful to Javier Mascherano, the Argentina Under-20 coach,’ Garnacho said this week.

Garnacho also paid tribute to former Liverpool and Barcelona star Javier Mascherano

‘Since they were first interested in me two or three months ago, he has always paid close attention to me, looking out for me and being attentive and thoughtful.’

With any luck and no shortage of hard work, Garnacho will now hope he can perk the interest of Ralf Rangnick and the next Man United boss to follow Anthony Elanga into becoming a first-team regular.

The opportunities could be there as soon as next season with the futures of Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial all uncertain. 

But a successful international break – starting against Venezuela on Friday evening – could even accelerate progress which could result in his first minute as a United senior player.

Garnacho could push for first-team spot next season with Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani ageing

Share this article

Source: Read Full Article