Question marks over the future of Manchester United’s South American star

by Nicolas Berg

Quick quiz: Who was the first player David Moyes signed at Manchester United? Most would probably say Marouane Fellaini, but you’d be wrong.

In June last year, United secured a £3 million move for Atletico Penarol defender Guillermo Varela. One year later, the 21-year-old from Uruguay is still yet to make his first team debut at Manchester United despite impressing for the U21 side, particularly after Christmas. On the right-hand side, a co-operation with Saidy Janko has blossomed, mixing the two full-backs into one dazzling right flank, guiding the way to the U21 cup final.

But where will Varela go on from here?

The first question would be: will Varela be happy to keep playing for the U21s? There is not a sole and easy answer to this question as there are many factors to take into account.

In January, his parents were involved in a car crash and the player was permitted a couple of weeks off to return to his native country. There were rumours of a loan move to his former club Penarol but it never materialised. However, his decision of staying at United, and , subsequently, stepping up his game, would indicate that he has settled well in Manchester (and probably would like to stay put.)

However, the’s 21-years-old and has proved himself on this level, which might indicate that he’ll look for new challenges, as his develoment runs the risk of stalling if he keeps going in the 21 level. Despite Rafael was haunted by injuries last season, Varela didn’t enter a Premier League turf and seeing Smalling and Valencia underperform regularly in his position isn’t a motivation boost. Additionally, the manager who brought him in is long gone. In other words, his chances of getting into the United squad, even as a fringe player, seem minor.

So where could he move? Would he be good enough for one of the lesser sides in the Premier League or Championship? Maybe. There is some leap from the U21 league to the top level of the football globe but as other loanees and released U21 players have performed well in the Championship, he could very well head that way. He’s probably not too keen on leaving England and settle for another foreign culture with a new language to learn, like e. g. the French, so if he leaves, it must be for a Spain or another English club.

With that said, not every young player in the world gets to the books of Manchester United, and he might give it a final go in an attempt to challenge Rafael for the right-back slot. That’s the only argument for why Varela might stay beyond the summer in a final season at Old Trafford, or more like Salford City Stadium.

Summa summarum, the offensive-minded Uruguayan, with ability to overlap and cross, is likely to depart the club this summer or the next, despite his impressive run of games this season. He could probably do it for a Championship club, or, if he’s lucky, get a fringe role against a side fearing Championship presence more than anything.

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