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Facundo Pellistri makes the starting XI against Real Betis in first start for Manchester United

Erik ten Hag has placed his faith in the pacy Uruguayan in the absense of Alejandro Garnacho and Antony for the Europa League fixture.

Facundo Pellistri makes first start for Manchester United
Adam VaughanEFE

Manchester United youngster Facundo Pellistri has struggled to make an impact at Old Trafford since his transfer in 2020, but Erik ten Hag has handed the Uruguayan his first start for the club in tonight’s Europa League tie.

The Premier League side have a 4-1 lead over Real Betis from the first leg and look all but certain to make the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Ten Haag is without winger Antony, who has not travelled to Spain due to an illness, and Alejandro Garnacho who picked up a serious ankle injury in last weekend’s draw against Southampton.

With availability issues, Ten Hag opted to start the man who was signed from Peñarol in the summer of 2020 for a fee of around $10 million. The 21-year-old has twice been sent on loan to Alavés in recent years and had not made a single start for the Manchester club, until now.

Why hasn’t Pellistri played for Manchester United?

For some Manchester United fans the young winger’s lack of playing time has been something of a mystery. He has been at Old Trafford since his most recent loan ended last summer, but he failed to make a single appearance until a 3-0 EFL Cup win over Charlton Athletic in January.

He made his Premier League debut a month later, in a 2-2 draw with Leeds United, but the form of the club’s other forwards have severely limited his game time.

Marcus Rashford has become one of Europe’s most in-form forwards in recent months, while Jaydon Sancho and Antony have looked revitalised after a shaky start to the season. If you add in the impressive performances of break-through star Garnacho and Ten Hag’s tendency to play club captain on the right in big matches, Pellistri has found himself a long way down the pecking order.

However Ten Hag is in no doubt of the youngster’s quality and placed his faith in Pellistri for tonight’s Europa League fixture.

‘We will see tomorrow,’ ten Hag told a press conference on Wednesday, ‘We have several options but Pella [Pellistri] is definitely one and he has been doing very well recently coming on.’


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