Rough Diamonds #17- Ben Pearson (Manchester United)

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Ben Pearson is what many would characterize as a classic midfield terrier. He’s got good acceleration, decent passing, excellent positioning and the recognizable Manchester United spirit to him while playing. In many games, he is the driving force of United U21 midfield’s pressure as they breeze through the season winning games. Of course, flashy players like Januzaj, Janko and Wilson are more likely to get the headlines, but similar to Joe Rothwell, Ben Pearson is absolutely one of – if not the – first name on the team sheet when Warren Joyce picks his starting XI.

Ben is an Oldham lad that joined the club in 2004, making 2015 his 11th year at the club. The Man United website describes him as:

While comparisons to former players should be treated with caution, his style in some ways bring to mind Paul Scholes in the manner he man-oeuvres the ball and has a low centre of gravity. Always looking for an option, he passes the ball thoughtfully around the midfield and also enjoys making meaty challenges.

And I disagree. His skills on the ball are very good, but he does not remind me of Paul Scholes at all. Think more Lassana Diarra, Lucas Leiva (pre-injury) or Lee Cattermole in terms of which part of the pitch he covers, where the latter example probably is more accurate. Covering large areas in defense, while also contributing going forward with runs from deep and simple and direct passing. Don’t get me wrong, though, he does have a neat pass and good vision of the play. It is just not what I would call his dominant abilities at this point. Ben almost exclusively plays in the defensive midfield position for the U21s, and while his future could lie further up the pitch, I think his playstyle and strengths suit that position very well. It is different from the Michael Carrick, Xabi Alonso or Daley Blind though, which could be a challenge for him breaking through to the first team. As he has the burst of pace in small areas, and good vision, he could very well turn into a more box-to-box midfielder in time. Against the best opposition, however, he usually controls the midfield circle and the space in front of the defense.

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Another quality that Pearson is well-known for, is his hard-hitting tackles, interceptions and temper that is evident in his play. He offers great intensity on the pitch, and must certainly be an inspiring player to play next to. Ben Pearson is a player who almost always stands out in the big games at every level, and has been a regular England youth player, all the way from U16 to the U20s. He has also been a reliable standout performer for Manchester United’s youth teams in FA youth cup games, international UEFA youth cup games and in league games against the bigger sides.

At the time of writing this, Pearson is loaned out to Barnsley in football league 1. I was personally hoping to see him in the Championship, and I suspect a few good performances at Barnsley might give him that after this first month. If not, he’ll at least get to play regularly for Barnsley in a first team environment and prove his worth. I do not think it is overly optimistic to assume that Ben is going to be a key player for the Tykes.

I think we can expect Pearson to figure in next summer’s Manchester United tour. And for those of you who have not seen him yet, I guarantee you that you will love his energy, work-rate and touch of finesse with that.

/u/monsieurryan & /u/rdzzl

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