Italian youngster Federico Macheda hasn't had a lot to smile about over the past year, but with a chance to start afresh, he may just fancy his chances of his career finally progressing.
It was back in 2009 that the young Italian burst onto the scene, with his crucial goal against Aston Villa which many credit with rescuing United's season and clinching an 18th league title.
Since then he has had his chances, but failed to seize them, and his sole goal last year was a penalty in a defeat to Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup.
Sir Alex Ferguson has been keen to get him game time by sending him out on loan, but his two spells away from the club have been frustrating if not near-disastrous.
18 months ago he was loaned to Italian side Sampdoria, who were promptly relegated, and he played 16 times scoring just once. This January he was loaned to QPR, but a change of manager and a raft of new signings, coupled with an FA charge for misuse of Twitter and injuries meant the spell could not possibly have turned out any worse.
So he is back to square one, but suddenly he may feel the path to first team football may just be opening up for him.
Michael Owen and Mame Biram Diouf have left, Will Keane is injured, and Dimitar Berbatov is surely on his way out, leaving a fourth striker's spot available behind Rooney, Hernandez and Welbeck.
United have been linked with Van Persie, but this still remains a long shot, and with Ferguson citing just 'one or two' signings will be made - with gaps at left-back and central midfield, there is a distinct possibilty a new striker will not arrive at Old Trafford.
If the 20-year-old, who turns 21 at the end of August, can carry on seizing his chances in pre-season, and there will be several games to come, including Ajax Cape Town this weekend, then he will give Sir Alex Ferguson food for thought.
Keep scoring goals, and yes the loan offers will flood in, but the Italian may just convince his manager to give him a shot of semi-regular football at least, a place on the bench most likely when the season kicks off in August.
The last two season Macheda has played well and scored goals in pre-season, and has persuaded Ferguson to keep him with the squad for the season's start. Due to increased levels of competition - at times he has been around sixth or seventh choice - struggled to make any sort of impact and loaned out in January.
Ferguson has two choices, send him on loan at the start of the season, or keep him and see if he can make an impact this time around. With his time running out there are surely only so many chances he can fail to take.
If it does not work out then he can always go on loan in January, and simply hope for better fortune and to sent to a side who will start him. He will not want to drop down a division to the Championship, but getting starts for any Premier League club will be tough.
We suspect that if United do not sign another striker and he carries on scoring, he will get his chances and stay with the squad. But if the club do bring in a new man, expect Macheda to be heading straight out on loan - and it will be the right move for him, as the prospects of kicking his heels while fifth choice at the club will be no good for him.
Should United retain Macheda or loan him out? If so which is the right club for him?
image: © apasciuto