Mason Greenwood & Bukayo Saka: Who are the teenagers scoring for Man Utd & Arsenal?

Bukayo Saka and Mason Greenwood
Bukayo Saka and Mason Greenwood both scored their first senior goals on Thursday

It was a night when "dreams came true" for two emerging English talents.

Manchester United and Arsenal struggled for large parts of their respective Europa League openers, but by the end two teenagers announced themselves on the senior stage.

First, 18-year-old academy graduate Bukayo Saka scored his first senior goal, and set-up Arsenal's other two, to help the Gunners beat Eintracht Frankfurt.

Then, 17-year-old Mason Greenwood, who has come through the United youth ranks, rescued Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side from a frustrating draw against Astana with his first goal for the club.

So who are they? What records have they broken and what are people saying about their futures?

'Greenwood will be a United starter for years to come'

Mason Greenwood
Mason Greenwood made his Manchester United debut in the Champions League against PSG last season

Manchester United are keen to tie Greenwood down to a new contract.

Greenwood signed a professional contract last year but celebrates his 18th birthday on 1 October and United are hopeful of being able to mark the occasion with a lucrative new deal.

"We are always in talks with the boys about how we see the future. Mason is one we want to keep with us," said Solskjaer.

There are few better places for a Manchester United academy graduate to score their first goal than in front of the Stretford End.

United had been kept out by Kazakh side Astana for 73 minutes on Thursday before Greenwood cleverly cut on to his right foot and finished through the goalkeeper's legs.

In doing so, the striker became United's youngest scorer in Europe and the first player born in the 2000s to score for the club.

Greenwood made his United debut in last season's Champions League last-16 tie against Paris St-Germain, featured heavily in pre-season and came off the bench in the Reds' first four Premier League games this season.

Last season, he scored 26 goals in 30 games across United's youth, reserve and senior teams and made his England Under-21 debut earlier this month.

Solskjaer has said Greenwood's progress reminds him of United legend Ryan Giggs while his fellow United striker Marcus Rashford says his natural abilities are "frightening".

After Greenwood's match-winning performance against Astana, former Manchester United and England striker Michael Owen told BT Sport: "I really like Mason Greenwood and not just because of tonight.

"I've seen him many times in the youth team and he is a proper, proper player. He could be a Man Utd starter for years to come. I think he will be."

'He looked better than Pepe'

Bakary Saka
Bukayo Saka (right) was one of three Arsenal academy products in the starting line-up, along with Joe Willock and Emile Smith Rowe

Saka was making just his fifth senior start as part of an inexperienced Arsenal forward line, alongside fellow academy graduates Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock and striker Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, but was the Gunners' most impressive player in a tough game in Germany.

The winger set up Willock for the Arsenal's opening goal, smashed in the second in the 85th minute, and teed up Aubameyang two minutes later.

He was a threat throughout with his pace and trickery on the left flank and the teenager's goal made him Arsenal's youngest scorer in Europe since Aaron Ramsey in October 2008.

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown said Saka looked more impressive than the Gunners' record signing Nicholas Pepe who joined this summer for £72m.

"They toiled away trying to get young players in and they have found one in Saka," Keown said on BT Sport.

"You think of the way Pepe is playing at the moment and they paid £72m for him, and this kid looks better than him tonight."

Saka, born in London in 2001, was given his senior debut in last season's Europa League and scored five times and made eight assists in 20 games for the reserve side last season.

He has made eight appearances for England's Under-19s and has scored three times and set up another two.

'A dream come true' - what they said

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka: "I'm so happy to score for Arsenal, it's a dream come true - I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid.

"I just want to keep working hard to make sure I can feel this feeling again."

Shades of Van Persie - what you said on #bbcfootball

Richard Berry: The way Greenwood moves reminds me a lot of Van Persie.

Stuart Mitchell: Greenwood is the best striker to come through the united academy in years, he will have a better goal scoring career than Rashford.

Emil, Stroud: I've been watching Mason Greenwood play for the youth team for years. The kids got bags of talent, a real star for the future.

Adam Salter: Saka has grown and grown and grown in this game. Looked nervous at the beginning, but that goal caps a brilliant performance. Easily the Man of the Match.

Fred, Hampshire: Two assists and a goal, looks like Saka may be knocking at the door after all.


Join the conversation

These comments are now closed.


Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC