The previous post includes #10, Joe Riley.
At this time last year myself and /u/rdzzl decided to place Demetri Mitchell as the number 2 prospect in our youth setup. So why is he at number 9 this year? Well, he hasn’t really kicked on like he should, although injuries have played their part in the early portion of this season and most of the prior season. On his day he is still one of the most skillful players that United have. And he is a definite game changer. A year ago I thought that he could potentially be get to the level that Ravel Morrison was in the reserve team but nowadays I am thinking a more slick version of Lingard is probably what his trajectory will be. And that would not necessarily be a bad thing as it looks like Lingard will go on to have a good career either at United or elsewhere. However, time is still on his side at having just turned 19 years old on January 11th he will still have time to impress Warren Joyce at the u21 level. /u/monsieurryan
Demetri Mitchell is one of those players where the talent is undeniable. His ability to completely take the piss out of defenders and midfielders with his tricks and acceleration makes him an extremely intriguing player to watch playing football. He suffers, however, from what many players of his type do: inconsistency. I would argue that this is mainly down to his injury problems and age, but there is also something with the tricky winger that tends to make people either hate or love them. Nani, Memphis, and a young Ronaldo for United are good examples from the club in which a winger can have the crowd jumping out of their seats at one moment, and pull their hair in the next. A lot of fans seem to pin this on their selfishness or lack of discipline. A fair point that I can totally see. However, I think it is worth emphasising the very nature of such a player. It is – for example – easier to be a tricky winger in a team that has a lot of offensive threats, than in one that is our current first team. The fact that teams can double or triple mark a player like Memphis means that the tricks he has to pull out of his sleeve become harder with each attempt. And while this isn’t the case for our U21s most of the time, it is still an issue for a tricky player trying to break through an into our first team.
Let’s stay with the U21s anyway. He is yet to set the world on fire on a consistent basis. The way Januzaj would every week once he found his form, and the way James Wilson does it. This is the level our youth players have to reach to get a proper look-in. What will it take for Mitchell to get there? Depending on who is in charge of the first team in the next year or two, of course, he will need to develop the other aspects of his game to a level where he isn’t a weak point in our team when it comes to other things than trickery and pace. This is not to say he is bad at combination plays, passing and breaking into space, but he must certainly work hard on improving these aspects of his game to be considered in the selection of the coming summer’s pre-season tour.
His main problem is with that of injuries. Without getting a consistent run of games in a position, he will never amount to the levels his talents indicate that he could. This goes for a lot of youth players at any club, of course, but is very much true for Demetri as well. Being offered a new contract by the club last summer is a sign that the club believes in him to overcome the injury problems, and to kick on to become a player with the chance of breaking through for us. It is just a shame he has lost so much time to develop already, spending much of it in the physioroom. Hopefully 2016 can be Mitchell’s year. It is not without reason he made it so high up in last year’s youth rankings list. He has thrilling qualities, a good understanding of the game and seemingly a good attitude as well. In my opinion, Mitchell needs to set the world on fire in the coming months and earn himself a very useful pre-season tour, or a great loan for next year.