Rio Ferdinand says he is “excited” about the prospect of Manchester United youngsters Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal, both of whom have featured extensively under Erik ten Hag this summer.
The Red Devils have contested in two pre-season friendlies so far, first beating traditional rivals Liverpool 4-0 in Thailand and then following up on Friday night with a 4-1 win over Melbourne Victory in Australia, with Savage and Iqbal playing a role in both fixtures.
Against Jurgen Klopp’s men the academy products were introduced at half-time, and they were afforded similar treatment down under as they came on at the break to star as Ten Hag recorded his second unofficial victory as the new man in the Old Trafford hotseat.
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Man Utd have built a reputation over the years for developing young talent, with Marcus Rashford the current poster boy of the club’s blossoming academy, and Ferdinand believes there are two more waiting in the wings who could follow in a similar trajectory.
“I’ve watched the last two pre-season friendlies and the young lads in midfield there – Charlie Savage has been excellent, Zidane’s been very good as well,” Ferdinand told his Vibe with Five YouTube channel.
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“So I think it’s good food for thought. It’s always that way in pre-season, you get a couple of players who come out of nowhere and you go, ‘I didn’t expect that from them’. I remember Jesse Lingard all those years ago when David Moyes came and I remember Moyes saying: ‘Rio, I didn’t realise Jesse Lingard was that good’.
“[Wilfried] Zaha was brilliant in pre-season, it didn’t quite work out for him in the long run (at United) but you can get your opportunity in pre-season and fly. I’m excited about some of the young players getting opportunities in pre-season – it’s good.”
Iqbal in particular has garnered significant attention in the United academy, and was recently lauded by fans for his showing against Melbourne, producing a roulette skill move to get himself out of danger on the hour mark and executing an outrageous flick to Tahith Chong.
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The teenage wonderkid recently admitted that he knows this summer may be the only opportunity he gets to impress Ten Hag — and he’s relishing the challenge.
He said: “I have told myself: ‘This could be the only chance I get in the first team’.
“It has been part of my game since I was young, always wanting the ball. I just do what I do and whatever is meant to be will be. I will have no regrets. I will just try to do my best on the pitch and leave it up to God really.”