Erik ten Hag decision on former Real Madrid wonderkid hints at long-term Man Utd plans

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has sanctioned a loan move away for talented young defender Alvaro Fernandez, who has joined Preston North End on a temporary basis. Fernandez is one of several United starlets to have left an impression on Ten Hag since the Dutchman’s arrival at Old Trafford earlier this summer and looks to be destined for great things if he continues to develop on an upward trajectory over the next few years.

Fernandez scooped United’s reserve team Player of the Year award last season after turning plenty of heads with his form at under-23 level for the Red Devils. He is set to be tested in the senior ranks over the course of the upcoming campaign, though, after joining Preston in order to aid their hopes of challenging for promotion from the Championship.

The 19-year-old only joined United’s academy from Real Madrid in 2020 but is yet to make his first-team debut for the club in spite of his dazzling performances at youth level. Fernandez’s move to Preston suggests that a role under Ten Hag could become a reality in the not-too-distant future if he uses the experience to fine-tune certain aspects of his game in order to make the jump at some point further down the line.

He will now be hoping to emulate the likes of fellow United youngster James Garner, who starred in the Championship while on loan at Nottingham Forest last season. The 21-year-old played a crucial role in helping Forest to secure a long-awaited return to the Premier League with his commanding performances in the middle of the park and is believed to be in Ten Hag’s thoughts in advance of the new United manager’s first campaign at the helm.

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Ten Hag has gained a favourable reputation for developing young players over the years and will be looking to keep helping the biggest talents to shine over the course of his spell in charge of United. He gave senior minutes to a handful of the club’s academy stars during their pre-season tour in Australia earlier this month and was left impressed by their showings on the training ground and in matches while down under.

“Every new season is a new start,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports when quizzed on United’s current crop of youth talent. “Of course there is a past, but we don’t have to look back at the past, we have to look into the future.

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“Those players have high potential, and when we construct a team, and they take the responsibility for their fitness, I am sure they will perform, and we will get the right results. I think it’s always a matter of developing, that’s with experienced players and with younger players.

“I am a coach, I am not afraid, if players are good enough and are old enough, I will play them. We set a high standard, and values, and the team respond to it. We are happy with that.”

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