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What happened to five Man Utd wonderkids tipped for the top under Jose Mourinho

In Europe
June 04, 2024

Jose Mourinho once tipped five Manchester United academy prospects for greatness as he believed they were destined to shine in football.

The Portuguese coach, who has just signed a contract with Turkish club Fenerbahce, has never been shy when it comes to giving his opinion on players and rivals alike.

Whether you love or hate him, there have been numerous occasions where he has stated his opinion and been proven right in the long run. However, nobody is perfect and there have been times where the ‘Special One’ has got it wrong – during his stint at Old Trafford and beyond.

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United fans were graced with plenty of memorable moments while Mourinho was the boss – during his press conferences, on match days, and in some controversial training session scenes.

Back in the summer of 2017, while still holding the reins at Old Trafford, Mourinho defended his record of giving academy players a platform to succeed and also tipped five current players to achieve greatness at the club.

At the time, Mourinho said: “Probably in a few years Man United will also have half a dozen of these kids [in the team]. So when the kids are good and have potential, there is no problem.”

The manager was sacked by United in December 2018 and has since had coaching stints at Tottenham, AS Roma and now at Fenerbahce. But what happened to those five players he was impressed with while with the Red Devils? The Manchester Evening News has looked into their careers.

Scott McTominay

Scott McTominay of Manchester United celebrates with the trophy following the Emirates FA Cup Final match between Manchester City and Manchester United.

McTominay recently won the FA Cup with Manchester United -Credit:Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

By the time Mourinho named McTominay as one of the players to watch out for, he had already handed the Scot a Premier League debut for United against Arsenal in May 2017.

Fast forward to 2024 and McTominay is still performing well at the club, scoring 10 goals and assisting three times in the 2023/24 season. He has appeared 289 times for United, scoring 29 times over eight seasons with the club.

McTominay has also been performing exceptionally well for his home nation of Scotland, scoring seven times during the European Qualifiers in the latest round of matches and helped them qualify for Euro 2024.

Demetri Mitchell

Mitchell was handed a Premier League start not long after McTominay in a season finale against Crystal Palace – but the left-back’s career at Old Trafford ultimately never got going.

Mitchell headed further north for the 2018/19 season with Hearts and spent his time on loan with the Edinburgh club. After 12 months back in the United academy, the young full-back departed on a permanent basis and made his breakthrough in the professional game.

Mitchell was signed by League One promotion hopefuls Blackpool, and played 25 matches under ex-Liverpool youth-team manager Neil Critchley.

The now-27-year-old then headed across the Scottish capital and joined Hibernian on a £300K permanent transfer – just three years on after playing for their city rivals, Hearts.

He lasted just one year with the Scottish Premiership outfit and is now nursing a cruciate ligament injury at League One outfit Exeter City.

Andreas Pereira

Andreas Pereira of Fulham applauds the fans during the Premier League match between Brentford FC and Fulham FC.

Andreas Pereira has finally cemented a place at Fulham -Credit:Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images

Pereira is a curious case for United fans as the potential seemed to be in abundance for the young midfielder – yet he never really got going under any manager.

The now-28-year-old signed for United from Dutch side PSV Eindhoven in 2014 and was introduced to the first team squad in a fairly quick fashion. However, he was then sent out on a multitude of loans that included La Liga clubs Granada and Valencia, as well as Italian outfit Lazio and Brazilian club Flamengo.

In the summer of 2022, United finally parted ways with Pereira and he joined fellow Premier League club Fulham in a deal reportedly worth £8million.

Since then, the Brazilian international has impressed, appearing 82 times for the west London club, scoring eight times and assisting a total of 15 goals.

Axel Tuanzebe

Tuanzebe was handed his Premier League debut by Mourinho in the same game as McTominay but struggled to hold down a first-team place following that match.

The centre-back has been loaned to Aston Villa a total of three times and has also spent time at Napoli and Stoke City.

He was released by United in the summer of 2023 and found his home at Ipswich Town, scoring and assisting once during their successful 2023/24 campaign.

The club completed promotion to the Premier League after defeating Huddersfield 2-0 in the final game of the Championship campaign – meaning that Tuanzebe will be facing his old club once again in the new season.

Tyrrell Warren

Similar to fellow full-back Mitchell, Warren was surplus to United’s requirements once he graduated from the club’s academy system.

This is a fate that many players before Warren have suffered as plenty of academy players at multiple clubs have to strive for the very best in order to compete for the first team.

Warren has had a troubling time since leaving United, bouncing between various teams that included Salford’s Under-21s, Boston United, Halifax Town and Barrow.

The right-back’s most recent move was from League Two outfit Barrow to fellow league side Grimsby Town in a £170K permanent transfer. Hopefully, the now-25-year-old can get some solid minutes under his belt and kick off his footballing career with a long-term club.

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