We all remember Federico “Kiko” Macheda bursting onto the scene last season with his spectacular goal at the death to beat Aston Villa. A season later, we’ve seen enough of him to note that he is progressively improving and will certainly become a fantastic player in years to come. He certainly has the talent, and his decision-making is gradually getting better as he matures. After all, he’s only 18 years old.
As it stands, Macheda is our 4th choice striker in a fully fit squad, behind superstar Wayne Rooney, classy Dimitar Berbatov and goal-sneak Michael Owen. If reports are to be believed, Berbatov, who has been subject to increasing scrutiny due to his frustrating performances throughout his time at Old Trafford, could be on his way to AC Milan or Bayern Munich, both clubs where his technical brilliance would be better suited. That leaves only Owen in the way of Macheda being a first-teamer next season, and with Owen’s unfortunate past with injuries, including his current hamstring injury that has ruled him out of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it could be argued that Macheda, a rising star at United, would be a better choice to start alongside Wayne Rooney in a 4-4-2 formation, with Owen being used as a Solksjaer-like “super-sub”. This could perhaps work best with Macheda rotating with Mame Biram Diouf and Javier Hernandez, as all three are promising young players with a future at Old Trafford.
Whilst Kiko still has a long way to go before he can be considered a “world-class” player, he is well on the way to becoming one of Europe’s better strikers, and history shows that the best way to develop young players is by giving them first team opportunities. The perfect example is the 95/96 premiership winning team, and with the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville – all members of that team – entering the twilight of their careers, it is time for the next generation of United players to be given an opportunity to consolidate their place in the United team. Macheda is one player who should certainly be given this chance.