Manchester United's latest Young Player of the Year could save the club a lot of money and give the fans plenty to be excited about.
It was fitting that at the end of a season in which Paul Scholes retired from the game, his heir apparent at Manchester United was hailed for his own impressive development.
Ben Pearson may not be a name familiar to everyone. But for those who watch United’s under-18s, he is a player who will have stuck firmly in the mind.
And while it is easy and often lazy to call someone “the new (insert name of great footballer)”, in the case of Pearson it is a description that fits.
The 18-year-old’s ability to keep and dispatch the ball has already seen him compared with the retiring legend. When the quick pass is on, he makes it; but when it isn’t, he is confident enough to retain the ball, looking for outlets and finding them with ease.
It is a skill Scholes has showcased for years, the ability to seemingly turn into trouble only to somehow turn out of it again, always shielding the ball, always picking the right pass. And while Pearson’s long-range passing is not yet of the quality of the now-38-year-old’s, whose is?
At the club’s end-of-season awards ceremony earlier this week, Pearson was presented with the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year Award, a prize that has previously been won by the likes of Danny Welbeck and Will Keane.
Speaking after the award, Pearson said, “It’s a massive inspiration to get to see the first team players every day around the training ground and just see them walk around. It’s dead good!”
It was a statement as understated as those we have heard over the years from Scholes. Like the United legend, Pearson simply seems enamoured by the game.
As much as the young midfielder’s ability to shift the play is reminiscent of the former England international, it is his knack of breaking up opposition attacks that much of his game is built on.
Watching him track back and almost invariably win the ball one way or the other, he may not be the most graceful, but he can certainly tackle better than the man he hopes to one day replace.
So Pearson has the passing ability of Scholes, but not his one Achilles heel. In fact his haranguing of opposing players is similar to Owen Hargreaves in his pomp.
Having featured 26 times for United’s Academy side this season, and having captained the England under-18s back in March, the future looks very bright for Pearson. He still has some way to go to make it into the first team, but with a likely step up to regular reserve-team football next season, he is certainly one to keep an eye on.
How good is Ben Pearson? And does he have all the attributes to break into the United first team in the future?