Owen Hargreaves urges Ten Hag to play ‘perfect’ youngster against Barcelona

Owen Hargreaves urges Ten Hag to play ‘perfect’ youngster against Barcelona

Former Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves has urged Erik ten Hag to play Alejandro Garnacho in next week’s match against Barcelona. The pundit believes the youngster can cause Xavi’s side major problems in the second leg of their Europa League clash.

The two clubs played out a highly entertaining 2-2 draw at Camp Nou in Thursday’s first leg, with the second leg set to take place at Old Trafford on Thursday.

Ten Hag urged to play Garnacho

Man Utd boss Ten Hag opted for Marcus Rashford, Wout Weghorst, Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho as his attacking quartet at Camp Nou.

But ex-Red Devils man Hargreaves believes teenager Garnacho could be the key to unlocking Barcelona at Old Trafford. The 18-year-old, who spent several years of his youth career at Atletico Madrid, entered the fray nine minutes from time in the first leg.

The young winger has stepped up on many occasions this season from the substitute bench, most recently with his goal in the Premier League meeting with Leeds. He has two goals in the league and one in the Europa League this season, and could be key in next week’s clash with the Spanish giants.

“I don’t think they [Barcelona] controlled the game,” said Hargreaves, as per the Metro. “And that is a big thing for Xavi and Barcelona.

“It felt like in the transitions they were too vulnerable, they were too open. And it feels like there will be more of those situations at Old Trafford if they are going to play that way.

“Maybe Garnacho plays, I think he will be perfect in that. It was quite a surprise actually, Marcus playing through the middle and Weghorst playing as a number 10 and Bruno on the right.

“Maybe he [Ten Hag] plays it slightly different. But it just feels like in the transition, Barcelona weren’t there and at Old Trafford, United will get good chances.”

Ten Hag

Barcelona without key duo

In a massive boost to Ten Hag and his men, Barcelona will be without outstanding youngsters Pedri and Gavi for the return leg.  Pedri left the field on the 41-minute mark at Camp Nou with a thigh injury, which will reportedly keep him sidelined for a number of weeks.

And his talented teammate Gavi picked up his third yellow card in European competition this season for a foul on Fred, which has earned the youngster a one-match suspension. It adds to the stress for Xavi ahead of the return leg, with Ousmane Dembele and Sergio Busquets currently out due to muscle and ankle injuries respectively.

Ten Hag has injury worries of his own, with midfielders Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek both out for some time with ankle and knee injuries respectively. Both Anthony Martial and Antony meanwhile are currently sidelined with knocks.

Ten Hag continues remarkable turnaround

Man Utd boss Ten Hag continued his remarkable turnaround at the Red Devils with Thursday’s draw, with the club now on a seven-game unbeaten run.

Sitting third in the Premier League, the Manchester outfit are also into the fifth round of the FA Cup, while they have a League Cup final meeting with Newcastle at Wembley next weekend.

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