Name: James Garner
Club: Manchester United
Date of Birth: 13 March 2001
Position: Midfielder (Defensive/Central), Centre-back
James Garner – his career so far
Birkenhead-born James Garner has been an influential figure in Manchester United’s academy ever since he joined the club at the U8 level. The now 19-year-old midfielder progressed through the ranks and clawed his way into the U18s squad rather quickly, making his debut at the end of the 2016/17 season as a very young lad appearing as a substitute in games against Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers.
Interestingly enough, before moving up that big step, he captained the development squads at the U16 level and his transition to the older squad was brilliant, to say the least. In his first full year at U18 level, he made 24 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals and practically staking his claim as one of their brightest young gems.
It was actually his leadership that led the Red Devils to their title triumph in 2017/18 season, conquering the Premier League North with style and exceptional performances. Soon afterwards, more recognition came his way as the masterful displays he dropped along the way didn’t go unnoticed by the upper hierarchy.
He penned a new contract, tying him to the club for the foreseeable future and then proceeded to be named on the bench for a couple of senior team games until he finally made his grand Premier League debut as a late substitute at Crystal Palace in late February 2019.
As a whole, he made 29 appearances for the U18 squad, scoring five goals and assisting further four. But he was much more successful for the U23s, where he tallied nine goals and one assist across 24 games played.
Following his senior debut, he featured in six other first-team games, all in the 2019/20 season and across the Premier League, EFL Cup and the Europa League.
With 19 years on his back and a plethora of experience already behind him, Garner certainly looks set to make another step up in the near future.
Even though there is nothing concrete out there claiming Garner might be in line for a possible loan deal this summer, there are some transfer rumours and media outlets that seem to suggest that would indeed the best-case scenario for the 19-year-old talent.
He is slowly but surely outgrowing the U23 squad and his career is bound to hit a crossroads sooner rather than later. Of course, no Manchester United news is suggesting that his path towards the first team is blocked in any way but he’s been quite unlucky not to feature more at this point already.
Garner is clearly too good for the level he’s currently playing at and would benefit immensely from some senior football before he can join his Red Devils teammates at Old Trafford.
But we’ll have to wait and see if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has different plans for the lad.
Garner is a more defensive-minded midfielder who likes to play just in front of the defensive line and if it’s necessary, he can also be deployed as one of the centre-backs and will do the job admirably well.
But he works best just a bit further up the pitch from where he can orchestrate play, dictate the tempo and deploy his passes into the advanced areas and into his teammates’ feet. And this is exactly the role he thrives in – he commands authority on the pitch despite his young age and is already developing the marks of a true leader.
Recently, he’s been adding goals and assists to his tally, which is also quite impressive for a defensive midfielder, proving that he’s versatile enough to slot into the more advanced areas of the pitch as well.
He can boast with excellent close control, technique and a good passing range. But Garner can also stop the opposition’s attempts with his tackles and interceptions, which is crucial for restarting attacks and ensuring a safe and quick transition from one side to the other.
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