The 17-year-old has been on fire for the Red Devils in this seasons FA Youth Cup, earning himself a shock call-up to the Argentina senior squad

If Alejandro Garnacho was looking for a way to announce himself in English football, then a couple of wonder goals at Old Trafford accompanied by Cristiano Ronaldo’s famous siu celebration was certainly one way to do it.

Garnacho has been the star of Uniteds run to the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup, scoring four goals and laying on three assists in just four matches to set up Wednesdays meeting with Wolves.

His late goal against Everton in the fifth round was the pick of the bunch, collecting the ball deep in Uniteds half before setting off on a storming run to leave two defenders in his wake and provide the finish.

He also netted an outrageous bicycle kick in front of the Stretford End against Scunthorpe United in the third round, and scored both goals in the quarter-final victory over Leicester City, backing-up a 25-yard free-kick with an 89th-minute winner.

He has marked those strikes by mimicking his idol Ronaldos trademark leap and twist in the air, with the teenager hopeful he will one day get to share the Old Trafford turf with the five-time Ballon dOr winner.

Garnacho arrived at United from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2020, leaving behind the club that he had joined at the age of 11.

Spanish media described him as being “the jewel in the crown” of the Atletico academy, and United beat off stiff competition from Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid to land the pacey winger.

It is a move that has worked out well thus far, with Garnacho averaging a goal or assist every 95 minutes for Uniteds Under-18s and U23s sides during his first season-and-a-half with the Red Devils.

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However, those inside the club’s Carrington training ground are keen to ensure that, despite all the recent attention, Garnacho keeps his feet on the ground.

“I’ve got a good relationship with Garna and he knows that if he steps out of line I’m coming for him!” Uniteds head of player development and coaching, Justin Cochrane, jokes to GOAL.

“He played well in the game (against Leicester in the quarter-finals) but he can do better, he can score more goals, he can be more ruthless. But he’s on a journey, and he’s doing well at the moment. We’re pleased with him.

“My job and the staff’s job is to keep players grounded and keep their eyes on the prize. Not just the youth prize, but the bigger prize of being in the first team and having a sustained career at a high level, so that’s what we’re focusing on with Garna.”

It might be about to become increasingly difficult for Cochrane and his colleagues to keep Garnacho’s feet on the ground, though.

On top of his Youth Cup heroics that have caught the eye of United supporters, on Sunday, Garnacho was one of 44 players provisionally called up by Lionel Scaloni for Argentina’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Venezuela and Ecuador.

With the Albiceleste having already having qualified for Qatar 2022, Scaloni is using these final qualifiers to integrate young faces into his squad for the future. Garnacho is one of seven uncapped players in the preliminary squad, with the majority dual-nationals who the South American giants hope they can convince to play for them long-term.

Should he make the final cut, Garnacho – who has a Spanish father but whose mother has Argentine heritage – will have the chance to train alongside Lionel Messi for a week, in what is his first call-up at any level by Argentina, having previously represented Spains age-group sides.

Sources tell GOAL that while Garnacho is proud to have received the call-up – he posted a picture of himself as a child in an Argentina shirt on his Instagram following the news – he is still to make a decision on which country he will ultimately represent.

United staff, meanwhile, recognise that the international interest Garnacho has received highlights the progress he has made this season, with U18s boss Travis Binnion believing that Garnachos success is down to hard work and dedication.

“He has got to perform. He is getting a taste for that now. Hes understanding how to perform well and working really hard,” Binnion says. “The goal at the end of the game (against Everton) shows he is improving fitness levels and how he’s approaching both training better and games better.

“It’s just rewards for him that late on in the game to show that level of fitness. It validates everything he’s doing.”

Garnachos two main attributes are undoubtedly his speed and his finishing ability, marking him out as the ideal wide forward for a modern game where increasing numbers of goals are coming from players who traditionally would be relied upon almost soley for assists.

Composed and possessing impressive technical ability, Garnacho also stands out for his willingness to be unselfish around team-mates so as to provide assists, as well as score himself.

“He’s a very good player, a very tricky winger and he’s our outlet sometimes,” United defender Rhys Bennett tells GOAL “If we can’t get out, we can play it to him, and he’s got very good feet and gets out of tight situations, which helps us as a team as it gets us up the pitch. He’s a top player.”

Garnachos next chance to impress will come against Wolves at Old Trafford, and after Ralf Rangnick was in attendance for the previous round, this will be another opportunity for the teenager to prove his credentials in front of the United hierarchy.

If he can do, then his dream of pulling off a siu celebration alongside Ronaldo will move yet another step closer.

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