Manchester United’s first two pre-season games have been full of reasons to be optimistic – but not every player has shown their best yet.
While the likes of Anthony Martial and Jadon Sancho have dazzled, some are still working their way back to form, and have real points to prove.
Here is a look at five players who will be anxious to impress over the upcoming pre-season games against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa…
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Donny van de Beek
An ominous sign for Donny van de Beek so far is that he has started both games on the bench, and it remains doubtful that he fits into United’s XI as a starter.
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Erik ten Hag knows Van de Beek’s qualities well, and appears to see him as a back-up to Bruno Fernandes or a support striker.
The problem is the Dutchman has not really stood out in United’s two opening games, he has been on the periphery of the action.
A goal involvement will lift his confidence as he looks to get in sync with his teammates. The best is yet to come from Van de Beek, but if he wants to start United’s season opener, then he needs to lift his game.
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The competition for places is on at center-back after Lisandro Martinez’s arrival, and Harry Maguire must earn his place, rather than coasting on reputation.
His nomination as captain means little if he doesn’t perform, and both Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly have laid down a challenge during the openers, with Raphael Varane impressing in the first match too.
Maguire has played only once, and will look to kick on during the upcoming matches against Premier League opposition. He needs a controlling, error-free performance to start picking up form.
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Anthony Elanga was United’s breakout star last season, and has to keep progressing. He showed a nice touch for Anthony Martial’s goal against Melbourne, but has not offered much else so far.
United’s best front three right now, Ronaldo aside, looks to be Sancho, Rashford and Martial. If Elanga wants to force his way into that trio, then he has to earn his spot.
Elanga lost a bit of spark at the end of last season, and it’s not so easy to rediscover. He has to make good use of the opportunities he gets in the upcoming games.
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Amad is another United youngster who has an assist, helping to set up Facundo Pellistri’s goal against Liverpool with a clever pass.
Aside from this, his two showings have not quite shown enough, and it is still very borderline whether he should stay at United next season or be sent out on loan.
If Amad wants to stay at Old Trafford next season, then the next two games are key. If he can make an impact against Palace and Aston Villa, then it will bode well for his chances of cutting it in the Premier League.
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James Garner has been United’s unluckiest player so far, missing both pre-season matches through injury. He is pushing to play a part in the upcoming matches.
United need options in central midfield and seeing the academy star grab his chance would be great to see. While Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal have done well, Garner is viewed as being ‘ready now’, and could get an immediate place in United’s matchday squads.
Erik ten Hag will be the one judging him, and Garner needs to make a positive impression in the next two games, as it will get harder once Christian Eriksen links up with the squad after that.
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