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Bendito Mantato: Manchester United’s 16-Year-Old Wing Wizard

If you’re a Manchester United fan, now is one of the most exciting times in the history of the club when it comes to the youth setup at Carrington. There are a number of top prospects coming through the ranks at all levels, with the likes of Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho already forcing their way into the first team as regular starters.

One player to keep a close eye on is 16-year-old Bendito Mantato. The English winger, who only turned 16 in January, scored four times today for the U18’s as they came back from 2-0 down against Blackburn Rovers to win the game 5-2. It’s a win that puts the team a step closer to winning the club’s first ever U18 Premier League trophy.

Mantato was deployed on the wing, which hasn’t always been the case this season. The academy setup at United likes to play players in positions they may not be comfortable in to try and encourage growth and versatility as they mature, which means Mantato has at times been played as a full-back. He has been described as a great kid with lovely manners, and he is also very close with Godwill Kukonki, who has also featured for the U18 side this season.

The skill and power the young winger possesses are not something you often see in a player of his age. The ball rolls prior to his opening goal today were magnificent, and the ability to slow down a defender before speeding up and breezing past them to score is something you associate with the top wingers in the Premier League today. It’s the type of skill set of a player years his senior, yet here he is, just 16 years old, doing it to grab his team three points.

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Mantato played as a left-back in United’s 4-1 loss to Manchester City last week, as Harry Amass was not in the squad due to his commitments with the U21 side the night before. Of his eight appearances for the U18 side, six have been as a left-back. In the two games he played as a right winger, against Blackburn and Leeds United, he has 5 goals and two assists, with one goal and two assists coming against Leeds in a 4-0 win back in January.

New Contract for Mantato:

As reported by AcademyScoop, Manchester United are set to tie Mantato down to a new deal with the player verbally agreeing to a new contract, which is expected to be made official in July. There have been a number of other top Premier League clubs in the hunt for the United youngster, but he has decided to show allegiance to United.

Mantato has drawn a lot of comparisons to Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka due to the way he plays, especially his dribbling and ball-striking styles. The fact that both wingers played as left backs during their ascents through the ranks at their respected academy’s is also something they both have in common.

The 16-year-old is among a crop of player’s from the U16 side with major potential. Amir Ibragimov is the standout name, but Mantato and Jim Thwaites are also two players who are rated highly internally at the club.

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Mantato has already trained with Erik ten Hag’s first team on a number of occasions, as has often been the case with the young players at the club since the Dutchman joined in 2022. There have been a lot of opportunities for the current crop at the academy to be involved in matchday squads, with nine academy players being involved in the last two matchday fixtures. The club recently reached a milestone of 249 academy graduates making their debut for the first team after Omari Forson came on against Wigan Athletic on January 8th.

United have had Mantato in the club since the U9s, when he was signed from Manchester City. Bendito was the first signing made by Luke Fedorenko when he arrived at the club, with the current Head of Academy Recruitment also signing the likes of Amir Ibragimov, JJ Gabriel, Jaydan Kamason, Edward Ibrovic-Fletcher, and Victor Musa during his time at United.

He has featured for England at both the U15 and U16 levels. At U15 level, he made four appearances in the Pinatar Super Cup against the likes of Belgium and Japan last April, featuring as a left-back in the majority of the games.

The United winger was also recently called up for the U16 side for a tournament in Spain back in February, along with Amir Ibragimov. He started two games and also featured as a sub in the tournament, with England taking the trophy home.

While we may not see Mantato feature for the first team this season, he’s certainly one of the most exciting players coming through the ranks. The academy is in a very promising position at the moment, with the work behind the scenes from the likes of Nick Cox, Adam Lawrence, Travis Binnion, Mark Dempsey, Luke Fedorenko and many more beginning to show.

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