Tosin Kehinde has already exceeded his own expectations for the 2017/18 season – and there might still be more to come.
Kehinde was born in Lagos but raised in the UK, and turned out for City before signing for United.
The Nigerian-born Manchester United reserves midfielders has been on the peripheral of Jose Mourinho’s first team squad for the most part of the season has the head coach ponder over a deficit of midfielders. Now with only a few games to go, rumours are circulating Kehinde could become the first player to be handed a first team contract at Manchester United.
Kehinde has been the beneficiary of first-team shortages after becoming a regular for the u23 side under Ricky Sbragia, and his performances in United’s reserve team of late have not only highlighted his talents but propelled him into the international scene with scouts and clubs alike taking a keen interest in his skills. In February, United were close to handing the young Nigerian a debut when they got hit with injuries and illness. Paul Pogba was ill, Maroune Fellaini remained on the sidelines with Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick was out.
Reports in Nigeria suggest that the Nigeria Football Federation are monitoring his situation ahead of a possible call-up to one of the youth sides, and the fact that he has caught Mourinho’s eye sufficiently to train with the first team should impress the decision-makers. Ahead of the 2017/18 season, his aim was merely to establish himself in the reserves, but with Kehinde all but set to play for the Nigerian National team at some point in the future, we are yet to see how he will transition into regular first team football.
The 19-year-old possesses a crisp range of passing, explosive speed and a bag of tricks, and his versatility has helped him rack up the appearances with United’s U23 – he has also featured on the wing and his September strike against Chelsea was nominated for the club’s Goal of the Month award.
He told ManUtd.com : “[Last season] was a bit up and do. I didn’t start all the games but I was involved a lot. I was involved in the majority of the games so I was happy with that.
“For me, this season, it’s just about really securing a place in the starting line-up as often as possible and trying to do my best to progress as a player.
“Everyone will push each other and raise each other’s games during the season and I think it will pay off for us. I’m looking forward to it.”
The teenager has already played alongside first-team squad regulars Marcus Rashford and Axel Tuanzebe, as well as Timothy Fosu-Mensah, when the quartet featured in the UEFA Youth League two years’ ago and will be hoping to follow in the foosteps of Scott McTominay, Tuanzebe, Joel Pereira, Demetri Mitchell, Josh Harrop and Angel Gomes, who all made their senior debuts under Mourinho.