Ethan Galbraith: The Man Utd academy star tipped to be the Red Devils’ Xavi

Cameron Smith
Ethan Galbraith: The Man Utd academy star tipped to be the Red Devils’ Xavi

Ethan Galbraith is the latest academy star to be thrust into Manchester United’s first-team squad, with the midfielder called to the bench for the second leg of the Real Sociedad last-32 Europa League tie.

Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has recently shown a willingness to trust in youth with Amad Diallo and Shola Shoretire both given their first taste of senior football in recent days.

And with a 4-0 advantage to protect from the first match against Sociedad, Thursday’s encounter offers the possibility of more young players earning game time.

Who is Ethan Galbraith?

Galbraith is a 19-year-old central midfielder from Northern Ireland. He is a regular in Man Utd’s U23 set-up, playing in midfield or even central defence if necessary.

He was part of Man Utd’s Europa League squad for the knockout stages in Germany last season, and played in a pre-season friendly against Aston Villa last summer. Since then, he has dropped back down to youth level

Galbraith did, however, make his first-team debut in the earlier rounds of the Europa League last season, coming on as a substitute in a group stage defeat away to Astana in 2019.

Furthermore, despite never appearing in the Premier League, he made his full international debut for Northern Ireland back in September 2019 against Luxembourg after impressing boss Ian Baraclough in the U21s.

Baraclough even told Belfast Live: “Not to put too much pressure on his shoulders, but he’s our little [Andres] Iniesta or Xavi, someone who can get on the ball and manipulate the ball and find positive passes.”

High praise indeed for the youngster.

In the Premier League 2 this season, Galbraith has netted twice and grabbed one assist, and his ability to dictate the tempo of play is what has impressed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

With Galbraith keeping things together in the middle of the park, the likes of Diallo, Joe Hugill and Shoretire have been able to run riot.

He signed a new contract at Old Trafford in October 2020 to extend his stay until June 2023, where an option for another year can be activated.

With Man Utd boasting a fine tradition of bringing young players successfully through, Galbraith is hoping to be yet another academy graduate to make their mark.