Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has named the same Manchester United starting XI for a fifth successive Premier League match as Southampton visit Old Trafford, with David de Gea reaching a personal landmark and Mason Greenwood closing in on an historic record. 

United have recorded five straight victories in all competitions since a 1-1 league draw at Tottenham upon English football's resumption 

Key to those successes have been the midfield trio of Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, while Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have led the line to good effect. 

Greenwood has been particularly prominent since the Premier League returned, the 18-year-old scoring four goals in his three most recent matches. 

Those have taken him to 16 for the season across all competitions, putting him just one off the club record for goals scored by a teenager in a single campaign, with George Best, Wayne Rooney and Brian Kidd having hit 17 each.

As for De Gea, the Spanish goalkeeper is selected to make his 400th appearance for United, who can go third in the table if they win at home.

Much like their opponents, Saints have also hit a groove of late and come into this fixture unbeaten in three. 

Ralph Hasenhuttl names the same starting XI for a third game on the bounce, with the in-form Danny Ings – who has scored four goals in his previous five outings – leading the line and continuing his bid for the Premier League Golden Boot.

'Next Generation' is a series focusing on the young players tipped to establish themselves as the elite in the 2020s.

There had already been murmurings of a potential superstar coming through Manchester United's academy, but in December 2018, the noise around Mason Greenwood became that bit louder.

Chelsea had been unbeaten in the FA Youth Cup since 2013 before Greenwood was unleashed on them, the then-17-year-old netting a hat-trick in a 4-3 win.

That treble showcased much of what is deemed special about Greenwood. For his first, he chased down the goalkeeper, forced an error and then showed composure to fire past him and a defender on the line.

He doubled his tally from just inside the area, racing on to a throughball and coolly placing a right-footed effort into the bottom-right corner after creating space with a stepover.

His hat-trick was completed with another fine effort. After beating a defender to an underhit pass, he ran at the centre-back, darted to his left and picking out the far corner with his left foot.

Work-rate, close control, exceptional finishing and remarkable ability on either foot – it was all evidence of a complete centre-forward in-the-making.

Fittingly, Greenwood's dazzling display came the day after Jose Mourinho's final match in charge of the first-team – the teenager's promise a hopeful ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy period for the club.

Matic in awe of teenager

Fast-forward 19 months, Greenwood has played 42 times for United in 2019-20, while his recent form has led to suggestions he will surely be in England's squad for the delayed European Championships next year.

Not only has Greenwood made a strong impression on fans and pundits, but his team-mates are also well aware of his prodigious talents. Nemanja Matic has seen a particularly significant development in him this year alone.

Matic told Stats Perform News: "There are not many players his age of that level – he has this natural instinct for goals.

"There is a big difference from now from to six months ago. He is young and he is changing, and his approach to training and to everything is different. He's a great person, great for the changing room.

"He is quiet, I have to say, but the boy is always very positive and we are happy to have him in the team."

Mourinho's ousting and the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who had previously coached young players at the club, was seen as a potentially critical moment for the next generation coming through at Old Trafford.

While it's impossible to know how Greenwood's career would have progressed with Mourinho, it is fair to suggest he wouldn't have given him his first-team debut in a Champions League knockout clash away to Paris Saint-Germain with United chasing a goal to secure an historic turnaround.

Greenwood then made his first start on the final day of the 2018-19 season. Although United suffered a dire 2-0 home defeat to relegated Cardiff City, the teenager was comfortably the best player on the pitch.

From that point, it almost seemed a certainty Greenwood was to become a regular squad member this term, and he's finally cemented a place on the right side of the attack since football's resumption.

The new Van Persie? Or Robben?

Greenwood's build, running style and technique have drawn understandable comparisons with former United star Robin van Persie, though he reminds Matic more of another Dutchman.

"I don't want to put too much pressure on the lad, but if I had to say someone [Greenwood reminds me of], it would be [Arjen] Robben," Matic said.

However, some might argue Greenwood is poised to become even more of a nuisance to defenders given his unpredictable skillset – after all, much has been said about Greenwood's ambipedal abilities, and in the United youth teams he was known to take free-kicks and penalties with either foot.

While being "two-footed" is by no means a rare concept, Greenwood does appear to be a special case. His recent goals against Bournemouth and Aston Villa are proof of that, with the England Under-21 international hitting two ferocious efforts into the net with his supposedly weaker right foot.

Such unpredictability can only help Greenwood, while Matic also feels having someone like Marcus Rashford in the team will give the teenager a good example to follow.

"I think that when he has seen players who came through the academy, he has seen Marcus as a role model and he has tried to follow those steps, it was easier too for him to see that someone can achieve big things coming from the academy, so I am happy for him," he added.

Best and Rooney in touching distance

"It is important to have players from the academy," continued Matic, a firm believer of giving opportunities to youngsters. "They are making big players, good people, it's important they are good people for the changing room."

But the Serbian stressed the need for those players to be ready for the opportunities, adding: "The expectation from our fans is high and they have to be ready to play at the highest level."

It's fair to say no one is doubting Greenwood's credentials anymore, and the data highlights his impressive early impact.

With 16 goals, he is United's third-highest scorer this term behind Rashford and Anthony Martial, both of whom have 20, but Greenwood nets with a more impressive frequency at one every 129 minutes (Rashford – 142 mins, Martial – 147).

His conversion rate of 22 percent is identical to Martial's and an improvement on Rashford's 17 per cent, but it's in the expected goals (xG) metric where Greenwood's finishing abilities are best highlighted.

From the chances that have fallen to him, Greenwood would ordinarily be expected to have scored eight times this season, but his actual goals haul is double that.

By comparison, Martial's xG is five under his actual total at 15 and Rashford's is 23, three higher than the 20 he has scored.

Add to that, he is just two goals shy of setting a new record for goals scored by a teenager for United in a single season (George Best, Brian Kidd and Wayne Rooney all got 17).

"The players that have come through, Marcus and Mason, they have come with a lot of qualities and are ready at the highest level and [this] shows the academy can work well."

Matic's assessment appears to be on the money – as does Greenwood.

Even without much of an international career, George Best, Manchester United’s mercurial winger, is still considered among the greatest players of all time and rightly so. He only played for Northern Ireland 37 times over the course of 13 years, scoring 9 goals, but for Manchester United, where he played for the majority of his career, he enjoyed more success, including a European Cup title, won in 1968. Best, it is argued, is one of the greatest dribblers in the game’s history, the winger consistently displaying unmatched skill, balance, and a knack for scoring goals to boot. Scottish sportswriter, Patrick Barclay, found no comparison to Best on the field in his time, or ever. "In terms of ability, he was the world's best footballer of all time. He could do almost anything – technically, speed, complete mastery of not only the ball but his own body. You could saw his legs away and he still wouldn't fall because his balance was uncanny, almost supernatural. Heading ability, passing ability, I mean it goes without saying the dribbling – he could beat anybody in any way he chose. For fun, he'd play a one-two off the opponent's shins."

In an article titled ‘Was Georgie the Best?’, BBC journalist John May spoke about the impact Best had on the game, saying his performances never failed to bring joy. "People were transfixed, bewitched and delighted by the impish, cheeky skills of Best that invariably brought a smile to all except the defenders who had to face him," the article read.

Best would end up being a well-travelled player, racking up 586 games for various clubs, though he devoted 361 of those appearances to United. In total, Best would score 207 goals in all club appearances, a remarkable feat given two things. Best was a notoriously unselfish passer of the ball, as well as the fact that he was never the focal point of attacks.

Playing Career

Full name: George Best

Date of birth: 22 May 1946

Place of birth: Belfast, Northern Ireland

Date of Death: 25 November 2005 (aged 59)

Place of Death: London, England

Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75m)

Playing positions: Winger/Attacking Midfielder

Club Career

          Years           Team                             Apps         (Gls)

  • 1963–1974     Manchester United          361         (137)
  • 1974              Jewish Guild                       5            (1)
  • 1974              Dunstable Town (loan)        0            (0)
  • 1975              Stockport County               3            (2)
  • 1975–1976     Cork Celtic                         3            (0)
  • 1976              Los Angeles Aztecs           23          (15)
  • 1976–1977     Fulham                            42            (8)
  • 1977–1978     Los Angeles Aztecs           32          (12)
  • 1978–1979     Fort Lauderdale Strikers     28            (6)
  • 1979–1980     Hibernian                        17            (3)
  • 1980–1981     San Jose Earthquakes       56          (21)
  • 1982              Sea Bee                           2            (0)
  • 1982              Hong Kong Rangers           1            (0)
  • 1983              Bournemouth                   5            (0)
  • 1983              Brisbane Lions                   4            (0)
  • 1983             Osborne Park Galeb            1            (1)
  • 1983             Nuneaton Borough             3            (1)
  • 1984             Tobermore United              1            (0)
  • Total                                                586       (207)

Club Honours

  • Manchester United - Football League First Division: 1964–65, 1966–67; Charity Shield: 1965, 1967; European Cup: 1968

International Career

  • 1964-1977 Northern Island 37 (9)

Individual Honours

  • Football League First Division Top Scorer: 1967–68
  • FWA Footballer of the Year: 1967–68
  • Ballon d'Or: 1968; Third place 1971
  • PFA Team of the Year Second Division: 1977
  • Football League 100 Legends: 1998
  • Honorary doctorate from Queen's University Belfast: 2001
  • Freeman of Castlereagh: 2002
  • Inaugural inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame: 2002
  • BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award: 2002
  • UEFA Jubilee Awards – Northern Ireland's Golden Player: 2003
  • UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: #19th
  • FIFA 100
  • Golden Foot: 2005, as football legend
  • PFA Merit Award: 2006
  • PFA England League Team of the Century (1907 to 2007):
  • Team of the Century 1907–1976
  • Overall Team of the Century
  • FWA Tribute Award: 2000
  • European Hall of Fame (Player): 2008
  • FIFA Player of the Century:
  • FIFA internet vote: #20
  • FIFA Magazine and Grand Jury vote: #5
  • World Soccer The Greatest Players of the 20th century: #8
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