Manchester United went on somewhat of a spree when Brexit loomed large. With the regulations soon banning transfers of non-English U18 youngsters, the club made a proactive move to recruit the best from across the continent. Along came wonderkids like Hannibal Mejbri, Alvaro Fernandez, Alejandro Garnacho and Marc Jurado. Two of these are already thriving in the Championship.
Now the third, Marc Jurado is in the headlines after making the squad against Nottingham Forest. Erik ten Hag has shown with Alejandro Garnacho this season that if you’re good enough you’re old enough. It is highly unlikely Jurado makes his debut for the club soon but with the way he has been progressing in United’s youth ranks, don’t be surprised that this squad appearance is talked about as the start of a great career in the future. The right-back has been impressing the coaches in youth ranks and has been promoted from one level to another with lightning speed.
So, who is Marc Jurado and why is there such excitement surrounding him?
Who is Marc Jurado?
Born in Sabadell, Spain, Marc Jurado is a product of the famed ‘La Masia‘ academy of Barcelona. He was scouted by the Catalans at the age of four for his goalscoring ability.
He joined La Masia in 2011, at the age of seven. Having done his footballing education in the progressive Spanish style, he rejected Barcelona’s professional contract offer to switch to Manchester United in the summer of 2020.
Straight from La Masia, Marc Jurado 🇪🇸❤️ pic.twitter.com/yQuSJv6deE
— Two Times a Guy (@twotimesaguy) April 16, 2023
Marc Jurado signed his professional contract with the club in April 2021 and after impressing in the U18 squad as a 16-year-old, he has already become a crucial member of the U23 squad for the last two seasons.
Marc Jurado stats
Marc Jurado has spent the majority of this season playing with the Manchester United U23 squad. Although he spent some time with the U23s last year, he has truly come into his own this season.
Jurado has three goals and four assists in 20 appearances in Premier League 2 (U23 level of Premier League). These numbers would be good enough for an attacking midfielder or a midfielder, but Jurado has managed this output while playing as a right-back!
He has been involved in 18% of all goals scored by the team, a remarkable stat for a defender.
Despite being primarily right-footed, Jurado is also comfortable playing as a left-back, like Diogo Dalot.
The stats speak their own story on Marc Jurado’s playing style. Jurado is an adventurous fullback in the mould of Diogo Dalot. He likes to routinely venture forward and relishes contributing in the attacking phase.
He gets assists from cutbacks and crosses while having the uncanny ability to arrive in the box at the right time to get at the end of those crosses as well from the opposite side.
On the defensive end, Jurado’s pace allows him to get out of trouble if he is caught too far ahead during counter-attacking situations. Due to his attacking ability, he has also been deployed at the right wing sporadically this season.
It is expected that if Marc Jurado keeps up his attacking output, then, like Gareth Bale, his future could lie further forward on the wing instead of as an RB.
Marc Jurado’s potential
Whenever a young player makes his first appearance under the bright lights, this is the first question on fans’ minds. So, what is Marc Jurado’s potential and how good can he be? In one word, his potential is – Limitless.
Not many defenders boss the youth rank football quite as heavily as Marc Jurado has. His compatriot Alvaro Fernandez wasn’t quite as impactful at this level and he has gone on to flourish for Preston on loan in Championship this season.
Being trained in Barcelona’s academy before coming across to England, Jurado’s game has the best of both worlds. He is technically proficient on the ball and has a good sense of space. He combines that with physical prowess and agility that allows him to overpower opponents at the youth level.
At his best, Marc Jurado can be a game-changer from the full-back position like Trent Alexander-Arnold is for Liverpool. For that to happen, he will have to work on his ground passing a bit and raise his defensive awareness. However, aged just 19 and blessed with all the raw tools, that should be the minimum expectation.
Even if his defensive aptitude leaves something to be desired, Jurado has shown enough to be tried as an attacker to make use of his remarkable attacking nous.
Marc Jurado at Manchester United
Sometimes, youth players just need a series of things to break right for them to break the glass ceiling. Marcus Rashford only made his debut because Anthony Martial pulled out during the warm-up and his backup James Wilson was also injured. He scored two goals on debut and never looked back.
Marc Jurado is involved in today's match day squad 🙌 pic.twitter.com/CLRQF88VJu
— Manchester_United_Youth (@MUFC_Youth) April 16, 2023
It is likely that if Ethan Laird was at the club today instead of on loan, he’d be in the squad ahead of Jurado. However, this is a break he has gotten. With mounting injury concerns in the senior team, Erik ten Hag might give Jurado a chance out of sheer necessity.
If he takes that chance with both hands, then the position he plays means he has the best chance of cementing a first-team place. Neither Aaron Wan-Bissaka nor Diogo Dalot has confirmed their place as the undisputed first-choice RB. Manchester United are even reported to be in the market for an RB, with Jeremie Frimpong links picking the pace.
However, if Marc Jurado runs with the opportunity if given to him, United could get an in-house solution to a problem area just like Garnacho’s ascent added to the club’s attacking ranks.