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Ibrahimovic? Try Ibragimov

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15-year-olds are making their Premier League debut these days. Ethan Nwaneri of Arsenal created history this season by becoming the youngest PL player when he came on against Brentford on September 18. Amir Ibragimov of Manchester United might break that record next season. After all, how many 15-year-olds are deemed good enough to train with the Manchester United senior team?

Such is the hype around the English attacker at Manchester United, followers of youth football are already anointing the Russia-born prodigy as United’s crown jewel.

So, who is Amir Ibragimov, and why is the excitement around him at such a fever pitch despite him just turning 15? We take a look:

Who is Amir Ibragimov?

Born in Dagestan Republic in Russia, Amir Ibragimov’s parents moved to England when he was 11.

He started his career at Sheffield United’s academy. However, his genius quickly garnered the attention of elite clubs. Beating off competition from other teams, Manchester United snapped him up. Since then, his progress has been a consistent upward curve.

He has captained the U14 and U15 team at Manchester United. In almost a single season, Ibragimov has improved so quickly that he now features regularly for the U18s despite turning 15 on April 2.

While his talent has always been apparent to coaches at the club, he caught national attention after he led Manchester United U16s to victory against arch-rivals Liverpool. He then turned up for the U18s on the same day, against Liverpool again, and also played a part in that victory.

Amir Ibragimov stats

Despite his tender age, Ibragimov is already becoming a crucial member of Manchester United U18s.

This season, he has made five appearances for the team, playing 59% of all available minutes. In those five appearances, he has one assist.

On the international front, Ibragimov has made his debut for England U15s. Through his birth, he is eligible to play for both Russia and England. Knowing that, England have been keen to keep such a prodigious talent in their youth ranks.

Amir Ibragimov can be expected to make his debut for England U16s soon as well. He has handled himself when fast-tracked at United. There’s no reason why it would be any different for England.

Playing style

Amir Ibragimov perfectly fits the mould of modern English attackers. Although his preferred position is on the left wing, where he can cut in on his stronger right foot, he is equally comfortable playing on the right or through the middle.

He is yet to completely grow into his frame, understandable for a 15-year-old. However, this has forced him to adapt his game. Relying on brains rather than brawn has polished the technical side of his game.

He is a tricky customer with the ball at his feet. He routinely beats opponents off the dribble and has the turn of pace to create space for himself.

Once in space, his footballing intelligence is way ahead of his age. He has the ability to pick out teammates with perfectly weighted progressive passes. Against low-block defences, his teammates regularly look to him to play that key pass than unlocks the defence.

He has a quick shot on him which he can unleash when given the slightest amount of space. An apt senior comparison would be if Phil Foden was right-footed instead. He is more a creator than a goalscorer as compared to Foden at this stage of his career. However, he has shown enough composure to ensure that the scoring part of his game will catch up soon.

Amir Ibragimov potential

Along with the left-footed prodigy Shea Lacey, Amir Ibragimov is considered the finest talent in Manchester United’s academy.

Both Lacey and Ibragimov as silky attackers with a high ceiling. In fact, Ibragimov’s ascent up the youth ranks at the club is even quicker than Lacey’s.

Aged just 15, he is already becoming a crucial member of the U18s. He was introduced to the team only this season but has acquitted himself remarkably seamlessly. Football runs in his family. His younger brother, Gazi, also plays for Manchester United’s youth teams.

At his best, Ibragimov has the potential to be a “goalscoring creator” who is a menace in the left half-space. Depending upon how his frame develops, coaches might even fashion him into a “Mezzala“, i.e., a central midfielder who routinely drifts wide to affect the attacking game.

Potentially, Ibragimov has the ceiling to become a crucial member for Manchester United’s senior squad. Making such lofty predictions for a 15-year-old is unusual. However, Amir Ibragimov is not a usual talent either.

Amir Ibragimov at Manchester United

Having already established himself at the U18s level, it can be expected that coaches will start to accommodate him into the U23 level when he turns 16.

He should follow just behind Shea Lacey. Lacey’s climb to U23s should begin soon to keep challenging him. This will increase the responsibilities of Ibragimov to be the U18s’ main creator.

Not every player needs a loan move to get accustomed to senior football. If everything breaks right, Ibragimov should be getting fans off their seats at Old Trafford in the next 2-3 years at most.

Vatsal Gupta
A die-hard Red Devil, who has straight up not had a good time since 2012. Lives on Korean dramas and books and can often be heard talking about armchair psychological stuff.

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