Pellistri reveals his Mexican master plan

Wednesday 13 September 2023 11:06

Facundo Pellistri has explained that he felt it necessary to graft throughout his pre-season in Mexico, in order to ensure he was ready for Premier League action in 2023/24.

The Manchester United winger has still to start a game in the division but came off the bench in the matches against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham last month.

It took his tally to six outings in the top flight, after spending time away from Old Trafford on loan with Alaves in La Liga but remaining in Manchester throughout 2022/23.

Pellistri appreciates he has had to adapt to the rigours of English football, after breaking through with Penarol in his native Uruguay, but the 21-year-old believes his exertions during the close season will enable him to really make his mark in the months ahead.

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On the back of a late equaliser in the friendly with Athletic Club in Dublin, the South American is approaching the challenges this term with real confidence and enthusiasm.

A personal training camp in Mexico has steeled him for the demands of working under Erik ten Hag and becoming part of an effective system, with and without the ball.

"Nowadays, football is, each time, difficult," he explained to United Review, the official matchday programme, at Carrington recently. "You can’t have holidays so you have to keep training during any holidays. So that’s why everyone keeps pushing because now the seasons are, every time, harder. And if we want to win everything, we have to train that way.

"It’s how it is now. And, of course, we do what we like. We like to play. We want to play lots of games and, if you don’t train, you can’t do that."

While the surroundings may have seemed perfect in Mexico, Pellistri did have to tailor his sessions due to the heat.

"Very hot!" was his description. "I had to train quite late because the first day, I tried to train as normal, more or less, three o’clock but it was impossible because of the sun. So I started to train later, like nine o’clock in the night."

With so much work under his belt, he says he can do the other side of the game when operating on the flanks, appreciating the defensive resilience and responsibility that is clearly an important part of Ten Hag's gameplan.

"It's very important nowadays," he insisted. "Nowadays, the wingers, they do not have only to attack but they also have to defend.

"So, before, you’d think, okay, I’m a winger. I just attack but, nowadays, you have to defend the same way that you attack. So that’s why I had to train in Mexico because the players need to do all those things in the modern football. So, yes, that’s also why we have to defend."

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Hence, fitness should not be an issue for the right-winger, who played both matches for Uruguay during the international break, starting against Chile, and then appearing in Ecuador on Tuesday, coming on for the final 20 minutes in the 2-1 reverse.

With Brighton & Hove Albion coming to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, Facundo stressed he was now equipped for the next challenge when it presents itself.

"You have to do everything but that's the way it is," he smiled, when asked about the winger's role. "And, if you want to win, you have to do it."

Read the full interview with Facundo Pellistri in Saturday's United Review, the official matchday programme.