Garnacho exclusive: It's an honour for me
Manchester United Academy winger Alejandro Garnacho is eagerly anticipating joining up with the Argentina national team set-up for the first time this week.
The 17-year-old has proudly represented Spain at Under-18 level in the past, but after receiving a call-up from Argentina, the country of his mother’s birth, he will now travel to South America to train and play with La Albiceleste.
“It’s going to be an honour for me,” Garnacho told us before travelling. “I have dual nationality, so it was a unique opportunity for me. I was born in Madrid, but my mother and her family are Argentinian. It will be an honour representing Argentina, just as it was at the time playing for Spain. I’m very happy and also very excited.
“I can’t wait for the moment to arrive and to then make the very most of it. My mother and the whole of my family, both the Argentinian half on my mother’s side and also my Spanish family, are also very proud of how things are going for me.
“We’ve always been a very close-knit family unit and as a little kid I would always support both national teams. And it’s something that they are also proud of too.”
Also in the Argentina squad for their upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers are Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria of Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid’s Angel Correa, Internazionale's Lautaro Martinez, and several other big names.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to be playing in the same team alongside star players of that kind of level,” said Garnacho.
“And I’m going to learn loads from them, grab the opportunity and improve as a player.
“This [call-up] will get people talking about me but I’m still young and it’s the beginning of my career and I’m just focused on playing football and on improving.”
Garnacho paid tribute to several key influences in his career to date, including coaches and senior figures at United who have helped him.
“My whole family have supported me in every kind of decision that I’ve taken, and my agent Carlos is just like family to me,” he began.
“Within the club itself, I’d also like to thank all the staff and all my team-mates who have constantly been helping me to improve. My Under-18s coach, Travis [Binnion], who I started to work with eight months ago, has helped me a lot and I’ve come on so much as a footballer thanks to him.
"And now in the Under-23s with Neil Wood and Neil Ryan, who are two great coaches who are always helping me and want the best for me. I’d also like to thank Justin [Cochrane] and Darren Fletcher who are two other people within the club who have always looked out for me, giving me their support in all kinds of decisions.
"Away from the club, I'm very grateful to Javier Mascherano, the Argentina Under-20 coach. Since they were first interested in me two or three months ago, he has always paid close attention to me, looking out for me and being attentive and thoughtful.”
GARNACHO'S SEASON SO FAR
Alejandro is enjoying a fruitful campaign with the Reds' Under-18s and Under-23s, helping the younger side to reach what will be the club's first FA Youth Cup final since 2011.
Goals have come from right across the frontline, including from Garnacho. The winger has been rather prolific in the Youth Cup, netting five times in four games played at Old Trafford.
“It’s been a unique and unforgettable experience, playing at a ground like the Theatre of Dreams, it’s a stadium with so much history,” Garnacho told us.
“And so far, so good, I’ve been doing okay there, too, scoring five goals in the four games I’ve played there. But yes, it really is a lovely stadium.”
The Madrid-born forward has also represented United in the Under-18 Premier League, the UEFA Youth League with the Under-19s, and Premier League 2 for the Under-23s.
“It’s been a great season so far and a very busy and intense one for me, having been involved in various competitions,” he said.
“It’s a real shame about the UEFA Youth League, where we were knocked out in a penalty shoot-out in the last 16, but in the Youth Cup, we’re through to the final, and let’s see if, with a bit of luck, we can go on to win it.
“The whole team and I are going to do everything we possibly can to try and win it. We’re really enjoying the season, though, for sure.”
Garnacho joined the Reds from Atletico Madrid in 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges thrown up by lockdowns and bubbles, he has settled well into life in Manchester and England, and says he has the club to thank for that.
“I’ve been living here now for 18 months with my family, my parents and my brother,” he reflected.
“We’re really happy here and we like Manchester and the town where we are living a lot, as well as the people here, too. We’re very happy living here and we’re also very grateful to the club for the way in which they welcomed us and helped me so much when I first got here. We couldn’t be happier.”
Everyone at United congratulates Alejandro on his Argentina call-up and wishes him the best of luck.