The young Swede burst onto the scene towards the end of last with his debut against Leicester and first goal against Wolves which was followed by 2 in 2 for Sweden u21’s. However, for those who have had a keen eye on the academy for the last few years, Anthony has been a clear talent but also very raw.
His style is pretty much perfect for this era of the premier league as he is an attacker who can play from the left, right, or as a center-forward. Possessing speed that terrifies defenders, Elanga is at his most threatening playing from the left and cutting in, much like Marcus Rashford in that sense. While that may seem predictable to a more experienced defender, Elanga has massively developed his left which gives him the unique ability to go down the line as well as cut inside with an equal amount of threat. During the 2020/21 season, Elanga formed an excellent relationship with Hannibal as their link up play and chemistry was often the highlight of most games and very often led to clear cut chances or goals.
Elanga first broke into the u18’s back in the 2018/19 season and was a very different player to what he is now as he was much smaller and didn’t carry the muscle that he does now. What hasn’t changed though is his frightening speed and direct approach which was best shown in arguably the goal of that season against Newcastle as a calm finish capped off a mazy run where he beat multiple men. Despite being one of the most exciting players we had, Elanga was incredibly raw at this stage and was often quite wasteful with his end product even though he ended up with 3 goals and 5 assists in the u18’s and made his u23 debut.
Anthony clearly had bundles of talent but it had to be nurtured in the right way and require a lot of hard work from the player himself to polish off those rough edges to his game and in the 2019/20 he certainly did that. This was the season where he made a name for himself as a genuine prospect for the future as he ended up with the Jimmy Murphy young player of the year award. In a shortened academy season, Anthony scored 7 goals and registered 3 assists as well as being fairly regular in the 23’s with 1 assist in 6 games. 2 games spring to mind from Anthony that season and it was the 3-1 win over Blackburn and the 5-2 win against Newcastle. Against Blackburn, he absolutely terrorised the Rovers right back with direct running and using his sheer pace and power to score twice and assist once. Unfortunately for Newcastle, he probably scored the goal of the season against them as the u18’s came from 2 down and Anthony fired a thunderous strike in from 25 yards.
Even though he regularly impressed at u18 level in the previous 2 seasons, the 2020/21 season was when he really made his name known to the casual fan as his games had come on leaps and bounds with him now being a very complete attacker. To shine in a team with fan favourites like Shola Shoretire, Hannibal Mejbri and Ethan Galbraith just shows the extent of his performances. Not only did he come back technically more efficient, physically he was bigger and seemed much fitter which is clearly evidence of his immense work rate and mentality that will go down very well with Ole and his coaching staff. In addition to what was a near perfect season for Elanga, he made his debut against Leicester where he did not look out of his depth which earned him a start on the final day of the season against Wolves where he scored a bullet of a header in a 2-1 win. It was also the first header he had ever scored which is further evidence of his clear improvement as a player.
Looking ahead to next season, there are a number of possibilities for Elanga, all of which are exciting. During pre season, Elanga seems to have changed shirt numbers from 54 to 36 which could indicate first team inclusion. Should Elanga stay with United next season, James would most likely have to leave for him to get a beneficial amount of football. Next season, there will be Rashford, Sancho, Martial, James, Amad and Greenwood as wing options so this does seem quite unlikely. Secondly, a loan to the championship. Anthony is probably ready for the premier league at a lower club, however, allowing him to thrive at championship club much like Mount at Derby and Elliot last season at Blackburn, could prove to be fruitful for his career. The final probable option, and the one I think should happen, is that Elanga gets a premier league loan. The only drawback to this idea is that there wouldn’t be many clubs looking for a left winger on loan. The most beneficial clubs for Elanga would likely be Norwich, Brentford or Southampton. Anthony will likely play a big part in this pre season and can hopefully he can use it as a springboard for a successful season. Below is a compilation of his highlights from the 2020/21 season.