Manchester United have named 18-year-old winger Anthony Elanga as the 2019/20 winner of the club’s prestigious Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award.
Previous winners have included Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Wes Brown, Danny Welbeck, Axel Tuanzebe, Marcus Rashford and Angel Gomes, while Mason Greenwood won in 2018/19.
Elanga, who was still 17 when the 2019/20 academy season was postponed and eventually cancelled, spent most of the campaign at Under-18 level but also featured for the club’s Under-23 team a handful of times as well.
He is a name that United will hope to hear more of in the years to come, with possible first-team opportunities in certain competitions even within his reach this season.
Elanga is a winger who predominantly plays from the left. His official United profile describes him as having ‘pace to burn’ and praises his talent and ‘unpredictability’.
Revered United writer and author Andy Mitten also commented on his pace in a piece for The Athletic on the club’s renewed commitment to youth development. The youngster is capable of both scoring and assisting, a must for any modern wide forward, recording 11 direct goal contributions in 17 games across all age levels he played last season.
Elanga, who was born in Sweden in April 2002, has football in his blood. His father is former Cameroon international Joseph Elanga, who was part of the Indomitable Lions’ squad at the 1998 World Cup and later went on to settle in Malmo, where his son was born.
Joseph’s first spell in Europe was in Greece, moving on to Malmo in 2000, where he stayed for five years and was a teammate to a young Zlatan Ibrahimovic. A spell in Denmark with Brondby followed, before returning to Sweden for a second shorter spell with Malmo in 2010.
Elanga’s mother was also a footballer in Cameroon.
He has represented Sweden at youth international level but remains eligible for Cameroon.
In discussing why Elanga was chosen as winner of the Jimmy Murphy prize, United head of academy Nick Cox lifted the lid on the player’s mature and professional attitude, in addition to his talent.
“There are a number of different factors that came into it when we made our decision, especially at this age group,” Cox told the club’s official website.
“Off the pitch, Anthony is extremely dedicated and always puts in the maximum effort, whether that is in his education, training or recovery work, and that is exactly what we want to see from our young players. On the pitch, he has become more consistent, regularly showing his pace, flair and finishing, while also improving his work rate.”
Superb Start to 2020/21
Having split last season between Under-18 and Under-23 level, Elanga is part of the older age group this season and has already enjoyed an excellent start to the new campaign.
He started the EFL Trophy tie against Salford City last week, both scoring and assisting in the 6-0 rout and playing the full 90 minutes. Shortly afterwards he also got a welcome first taste of senior action when he came off the bench in last weekend’s pre-season friendly against Aston Villa.