Manchester United have always given opportunities to young players and some of them proved that age is just a number.
United have developed some top-class talents over the years but plenty of others have failed to make the grade at Old Trafford.
We’ve listed the club’s youngest-ever goalscorers in the Premier League and investigated how they’ve fared in the years since.
Federico Macheda – 17 years & 227 days
Macheda exploded onto the scene by coming off the bench to score a stoppage time winner against Aston Villa on his United debut in 2009.
However, it would never get better than that for the Italian, and he was released in 2014 after a series of unsuccessful loan spells.
He now finds himself playing for Turkish Super Lig club Ankaragucu after four years at Panathinaikos.
Just listen to that roar 😍#OnThisDay 10 years ago, Federico Macheda scored the winner against Villa! ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/WAKhrXMyoH
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 5, 2019
Danny Welbeck – 17 years & 355 days
Welbeck marked his Premier League debut with a stunning strike into the top right corner for United’s fourth goal in a 5–0 win over Stoke City in 2008.
“It was lovely,” Welbeck said after the game. “Especially coming from Manchester, especially in front of the Stretford End. I wouldn’t say I’ve dreamt about it but I’ve thought about it every minute of my life.”
He scored another 28 goals for the club before Louis van Gaal deemed the striker surplus to requirements and sold him to Arsenal in 2014.
After being hampered by injury problems, Welbeck was released by the Gunners in 2019 but is now enjoying a renaissance at Brighton.
Mason Greenwood – 18 years & 54 days
Greenwood bagged his first Premier League goal against Sheffield United in November 2019.
Marcus Rashford – 18 years & 120 days
Rashford scored twice on his debut for United in 2016 and followed that up by scoring a double on his Premier League debut three days later.
He has since developed into one of the best forwards in the league and has already scored 101 goals for his boyhood club.
Rashford’s Premier League debut v Arsenal.
2 goals ⚽️⚽️pic.twitter.com/xG1AhvDi0K
— UTFR 🇾🇪 (@ManUtd_HQ) April 18, 2020
Rafael da Silva – 18 years & 123 days
Rafael joined United from Fluminense in 2008 and scored his first Premier League goal a few weeks later, netting a 90th-minute consolation goal in a 2–1 defeat to Arsenal.
The right-back became a fan favourite at Old Trafford and won three Premier League titles at the club, but he fell out of favour under Van Gaal and left for Lyon in 2015.
“In his first season, Van Gaal called me to his office and said: ‘You can leave. The meeting lasted one minute,” Rafael told ESPN in 2018.
“That was it: ‘You can leave.’ It took time for me to go, but I was desperate to leave when I did, and that saddens me because I loved everything about Manchester United.”
He established himself as a regular for the French side, making 139 appearances, but has now returned to Brazil with Botafogo.
Alejandro Garnacho – 18 years & 135 days
Garnacho’s winner against Fulham in November 2022 came after his Europa League belter at Real Sociedad and an eye-catching cameo that beat Aston Villa; this boy is the truth.
READ: ‘Like a young Cristiano’ – 13 amazing quotes about Alejandro Garnacho
James Wilson – 18 years & 157 days
Just like Rashford, Wilson also scored two goals on his Premier League debut but that’s where the comparisons end.
After getting off to the dream start against Hull City in 2014, the striker would only score two more goals in 19 further appearances for United.
Wilson joined Aberdeen after being released in 2019, but he’s now turning out for League One outfit Port Vale.
Nick Powell – 18 years & 177 days
Powell arrived at United from Crewe Alexandra in 2012 and hit the ground running with a goal ten minutes into his Premier League debut.
However, that proved to be his first and last goal for United as the midfielder struggled for first-team opportunities following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
“I gave up really trying at United when Fergie left, purely because I didn’t believe I would get played or thought about,” Powell told the Manchester Evening News in 2020. “And that’s what made me think ‘I don’t need this, I don’t want to be here.
“I went to every training session. I was a yes man but I didn’t really care. I went along with everything and it ruined my whole time there. I didn’t feel wanted.”
The 28-year-old was released in 2016 and now plays for Stoke City in the Championship.
READ: Remembering Nick Powell’s right man, wrong time spell at Man Utd
Adnan Januzaj – 18 years & 243 days
On his first Premier League start, Januzaj scored both goals as United beat Sunderland 2-1 in 2013 and was then tipped to be the next big thing.
However, the winger failed to live up to that early promise and signed for Real Sociedad in 2017 after a disastrous loan spell at Sunderland.
He has since enjoyed an impressive resurgence in Spain and helped Sociedad lift the Copa del Rey before joining Sevilla.
Giuseppe Rossi – 18 years & 269 days
Rossi scored against Sunderland on his Premier League debut in 2005, but the striker departed for Villarreal in 2007 with an overall record of four goals in 14 appearances.
Injuries have blighted his career over the last few years and the 35-year-old was last seen playing for Italian side SPAL last season.
READ MORE: A tribute to Rafael, an embodiment of Man Utd’s Sir Alex Ferguson era
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