As the coronavirus keeps on wreaking havoc all over the globe, EURO 2020 was the latest casualty. The tournament has been postponed by twelve months, amid fear that the infection will only spread due to mass gatherings and fans travelling all over the continent.
As an Englishman, the immediate thought was one of disappointment. Gareth Southgate’s squad was looking in excellent shape before the turn of the year, with the Three Lions having a real shot at bringing a major trophy home.
However, football works in funny ways. This England squad is incredibly young and jam-packed with talent. Twelve months isn’t going to hinder anyone’s chances at missing the tournament. Realistically, Jamie Vardy was the only one who was in danger, though he’s seemingly already decided to call it quits on his international career.
For United, it works in the favour of two players; Dean Henderson and, most importantly, Mason Greenwood. The shot-stopper looked a cert to be named in the latest England squad, but for the latter, he now has another year to cement his place in the Three Lions setup.
Twelve goals and four assists for the senior team this season tells you everything you need to know about Greenwood’s talents. The 18-year-old has been particularly impressive in the Europa League as he continues to learn, develop and hone his trade.
Greenwood is fully justifying United’s decision to move away from Romelu Lukaku, who was sold to Inter Milan in a big-money deal over the summer.
As Greenwood’s first-team minutes gradually increase, so does his chances at featuring in the European Championship squad. This season, despite injuries to Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane, the likes of Danny Ings and Tammy Abraham are ahead in the pecking order – that’s natural as they’ve been regular starters in the league.
However, call me biased, but I’d have more faith in Greenwood taking it up another notch next season than both Ings and Abraham playing like they have done this term.
Southgate’s trust in youth mirrors that of Solskjaer. Both managers are willing to take a risk on the next big thing, while despite England being strong defensively, there aren’t massive options up top outside of Kane and Rashford.
Then you factor in Greenwood’s versatility. He can play as the striker or out wide. In a tournament, where injuries are inevitable and players need to be rested, what’s better than having someone who can perform at a high level in multiple different positions?
Again, it all comes down to counting on Greenwood’s minutes increasing next season, which they undoubtedly will. Make no mistake about it, he’s the future of this club. He’s why Solskjaer chose to sell Lukaku. He’s also a major reason why United are performing better this season. It’s only a matter of time before he forces his will on the England national team. Now, he has twelve more months to do exactly that…