SPORT: Football
England coach Gareth Southgate could snatch Antony Elanga from Sweden.

If the Three Lions head coach does­n’t get his start soon, he will almost cer­tain­ly lose Eng­lish foot­bal­l’s new Thier­ry Hen­ry to Sweden.

Last year, his Man­ches­ter Unit­ed Under-23 boss Neil Wood could­n’t dis­agree in an inter­view with a Swedish news­pa­per that, yes, Elan­ga had sim­i­lar attack­ing DNA to Henry.

Before that, Ralf Rang­nick­’s pre­de­ces­sor Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer insist­ed there were ‘no words’ to describe Elan­ga’s potential.

Had Sol­sk­jaer actu­al­ly cho­sen to act, he might even still be Unit­ed man­ag­er right now.

It was he, after all, who gave him his first two appear­ances at the end of last season.

In the sec­ond of those, the won­derkid scored the open­er in a 2–1 win over Wolves.

But come the new cam­paign, he only gave him the last 17 min­utes of the 1–0 Carabao Cup loss to West Ham on Sep­tem­ber 22.

Admit­ted­ly, one could argue that Sol­sk­jaer was sim­ply try­ing to pro­tect him.

Rang­nick was­n’t so care­ful. In fact, he was eager to choose Elanga.

The Ger­man was named care­tak­er boss on Decem­ber 2 and three days lat­er Elan­ga came off the bench in the 1–0 win over Crys­tal Palace.

Rang­nick is now in charge of 16 match­es and Elan­ga has fea­tured in 13 of them.

If any­one doubt­ed those com­par­isons to Hen­ry, they had only to look at the fin­ish against Atleti­co Madrid which would have done the Arse­nal leg­end proud.

He got the Cham­pi­ons League result that Unit­ed nev­er seemed to get when going from the right to Bruno Fer­nan­des’ flick.

Last Sun­day he came on from the left, again on the Por­tuguese play­mak­er’s pass, to clinch a 4–2 vic­to­ry at Elland Road.

At present he is main­ly used as a sub­sti­tute, but a star was most cer­tain­ly born at the The­ater of Dreams and South­gate staff have, as revealed by Sun­Sport, tracked him.

But if the Eng­lish supre­mo has to act, he may have less than a fort­night to do so.

Elan­ga was born in the Swedish city of Mal­mo and has already been capped 16 times at under­age lev­el for the country.

He also qual­i­fies to play for Cameroon – his father Joseph was left-back at France 98 with the Lions.

Unit­ed signed him aged 12 after mov­ing to Man­ches­ter and play­ing for Tame­side club Hat­ter­s­ley after start­ing out at Malmö.

Whether Swedish or not, he has lived in Eng­land long enough to be eli­gi­ble for the Three Lions.

And South­gate and his team have sure­ly known him long enough.

Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer on Elan­ga
After all, Sol­sk­jaer pub­licly hailed last sea­son’s Jim­my Mur­phy award win­ner for Unit­ed’s Young Play­er of the Year, say­ing: “He’s got an X factor.

“Some attrib­ut­es, it’s not like a gift, but he has accel­er­a­tion, pace, speed, that’s a giv­en for wingers and he has qual­i­ties that I love.

“He’s a goal-scor­ing winger, he’s con­fi­dent, he likes to beat men, right foot­ed, left foot­ed, he’s got a great attitude.

“His appetite and thirst for improvement…when he trains with us.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.