Manchester United

Man Utd ready to unleash ‘scouse Lionel Messi’ as Erik ten Hag promotes next wonderkid

In advance of Saturday’s trip to Bournemouth, Erik ten Hag has elevated the most recent Manchester United wonderkid to senior training.

Man Utd ready to unleash 'scouse Lionel Messi' as Erik ten Hag promotes next wonderkid

Erik ten Hag has promoted Shea Lacey to Man Utd training. (Image: Getty)

After the impressive breakthroughs of Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo, Manchester United might be ready to let the latest academy product play in the first team. Shortly before he signed his first professional contract, Shea Lacey—dubbed the Scouse Lionel Messi by some supporters—was spotted in senior training.

Erik ten Hag promised to uphold the illustrious history of United by trying to bring at least one young talent into the first team each season after taking over as manager in 2022.

In his debut campaign, Garnacho achieved his breakthrough, while Mainoo emerged victorious from a lackluster second season in command.

This term, Willy Kambwala has become the newest permanent addition to Ten Hag’s team. The 19-year-old center back will likely start against AFC Bournemouth on Saturday for the second time in a row.

Earlier in the season, Omari Forson made his first team debut as a United academy product, making him the 249th such player. Before the summer, that number is probably going to reach 250.

The highly-regarded 17-year-old left-back Harry Amass is in with a chance after making his matchday squad debut in Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Liverpool.

But Lacey has been making waves at the youth level for a while now; this season, she joined Amass as a member of United’s dominant U18 squad.

The attacker, who was born in Liverpool, agreed to a scholarship last year and to officially sign a professional contract once he turns 17.

Ten Hag decided to give the wonderkid more of a look by bringing him into first team training before Saturday’s trip to Bournemouth, given that he turns 17 on Sunday.

As Lacey has advanced through United’s youth system and now appears to be on the verge of his senior breakthrough, he has been the focus of intense hype thanks to an abundance of social media clips.

His play has frequently brought comparisons to his idol, eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, and Manchester City star Phil Foden, who is currently among the favorites for the 2024 award.

He has a tendency to drift in from the left and isn’t scared to shoot or challenge his man from the inside or outside. In his brief career, he has scored a variety of spectacular long-range goals on his own.

Growing up in a family of Liverpool supporters, Lacey has attracted attention from big names while attending United’s academy. He does, however, back the team and is committed to fulfilling a childhood ambition.

Due to a lengthy injury, the dynamic starlet—who can also be effective on the left and in the center—has only made eight appearances this season.

However, Ten Hag has accelerated his development, and he is now experiencing a taste of the first-team atmosphere alongside Amass, Bendito Mantato, and Amir Ibragimov of the U18 team.


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