When Manchester United signed Guillermo Varela back in June, it was not a move that set the pulses racing for many fans.
That only Marouane Fellaini and Saidy Janko joined him through the Old Trafford entrance last summer also stirred a sense of frustration more than that of excitement for things to come.
But perhaps fans were too quick to judge a player on either his mystery or his age – because Varela has been a stand-out performer for United’s under-21s this season, and has suggested he has the talent to make it at Old Trafford.
A car accident involving his parents at the end of last year saw David Moyes grant him compassionate leave in order to return to Uruguay. And soon after, reports claimed he may seek a short-term loan spell with former club Penarol in order to remain close to his family at a very difficult time.
But no such move occurred, and Varela has since returned to England, where he again played for United’s under-21s on Monday evening in a 1-0 victory over Sunderland.
Given Moyes’ belief in youth – when that belief is justified – it would be no surprise if Varela’s United career really took off next season.
With Rafael prone to injury and Chris Smalling not always effective from the right, the 20-year-old Uruguayan deserves a chance to show what he can do. He has been a regular and steady presence in Warren Joyce’s side and is a natural in that position – which cannot be said of either Smalling or Antonio Valencia.
If he gets the chance in pre-season and beyond, the first signing of the Moyes era could become a regular in the match-day squad for many years to come.
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