Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been given food for thought as he faces a risky transfer decision this summer.
The Manchester United manager, who signed a new three-year contract at Old Trafford on Saturday, watched his side lose 4-2 to Queens Park Rangers in a friendly that afternoon.
Jesse Lingard netted in the third minute to open the scoring, but four goals QPR goals without reply meant the Red Devils were dead and buried at Loftus Road.
However, United pulled a goal back to make the finale somewhat of a contest.
That strike came through Anthony Elanga, who broke through into the first-team setup late last season and impressed his boss.
Scoring a sweet left-footed effort from outside of the penalty area, Elanga staked his claim to remain at Old Trafford for the new season and produced a solid performance in his 45 minutes after replacing Daniel James at half-time.
On top of his strike, the forward boasted an 88% pass accuracy, had three shots on target, created two big chances and won two fouls.
Competition for places on the Red Devils’ right flank is fierce, with James, Amad and Facundo Pellistri all battling it out.
With the £73 million arrival of star Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, Solskjaer is blessed with attacking options and may have to send some of his wingers out on loan.
Post-match, the Norweigan praised Sweden youth international Elanga by saying: “It would be easy to say the boy should go on loan, but he’s doing so well.
“He’s electric, his pace, his skill, he’s not afraid of anything and he’s got the courage and the bravery of a Man United player and today he created chances for others and himself, and scored a good goal with his most difficult opportunity.”
Solskjaer remained coy on whether a decision has been made on the 19-year-old’s future.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he was staying here. It depends, we know it’s important for him to develop and get game-time, at the moment he’s one of them we’ve not really decided on.
“If he keeps on like he is I might want to keep him.”
With James and Amad already firmly in Solskjaer’s first-team plans last term, it leaves Pellestri in limbo, having spent most his first campaign since signing from native Urugyuan giants Atletico Penarol on loan at Alaves.
The La Liga outfit reportedly want him back, having scored the winner against Derby County last Sunday.
Although he is expected to be loaned out, the 19-year-old told MUTV: “As you said, I went on loan to Alaves, I felt good, now I’m here trying my best and always pushing forward to be the best.
“I would like to stay here but I’m still working hard, improving and will continue working,” added the youngster.
Who should Solskjaer loan out this season? Comment below.
“There is a lot of young talent, all the guys want to improve, the training is really hard and I’m very happy with that because young guys are trying their best and looking for a place in the first team.”
That was at odds with what Solskjaer said, stating: “I can see a loan deal for him, there’s been loads of interest and for his best interests a loan would be what we look for.”
The Red Devils have confirmed that “plenty of clubs” have been asking about the possibility of signing him temporarily for the 2021-22 term.
And given the nature of developing young players, Solskjaer faces pressure to make the right decisions regarding Amad, Elanga and Pellistri to maximise their potential.
A wrong call at such a key stage of their development could have a big impact and United will hope Solskjaer gets it right having splashed the cash on young talent.
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