The 21-year-old spent the week absorbing Marcelo Bielsa’s knowledge in preparation for his first Premier League start against Brighton on Saturday.
Facundo Pellistri has played only 20 minutes of first-team football for Manchester United this year, but he might get a rare opportunity on Saturday against Brighton.
Following the announcement that Antony will take a leave of absence to address ongoing allegations of abuse, which he denies, a void has appeared on the right side of United’s front three. Jadon Sancho would typically fill in, but his position is in jeopardy given the very publicized fallout between him and Erik ten Hag.
Pellistri may therefore be the only obvious choice on the right when United hosts Brighton at Old Trafford on Saturday. Although he has yet to start the 21-year-old in a Premier League game, Ten Hag is obviously a fan.
Pellistri is one of many players on international duty, and the teenage winger seems to be relishing the opportunity to work with the mysterious Marcelo Bielsa of Uruguay. The young Reds player appears to be at the center of the ambitions of the former Leeds manager, who assumed the position earlier this year.
On Saturday night, Pellistri got the start as Uruguay defeated Chile 3-1 in their opening 2026 World Cup qualifier. And following full-time, he described the lessons he had learned from the famous instructor.
“Nahitan [Nandez] (Uruguay teammate) makes it much easier for me in terms of overflows because he is constantly overflowing and passing me,” Pellistri said to ESPN on Sunday. Then I may pass it to him so that he can shoot the center, which makes my job easier.
“I play a little more of an inside role. The full-backs overwhelm the defense the most since the team’s dynamic once the ball is regained is to send several men on the attack.
“He [Bielsa] speaks to us in-depth one-on-one, corrects us, and wants a really dynamic team with quick players that can go out and press and triangulate instantly. He creates spaces behind the defense, and I think that says a lot.
I believe there was a little of what was shown against Chile: the explosiveness when it comes to attacking when it recovers and also when it comes to having to defend. He also really wants us to come back to support the defense and be a team together.
Pellistri will profit from Bielsa’s strict procedures, and Ten Hag will also greatly benefit. The United boss has two requirements for wingers that cannot be altered: they must be fierce defenders and destructive in transition.
Fortunately for United and Pellistri, they rank as two of Bielsa’s key players, and the winger is already improving in those two categories while serving his country. That could give him a platform to develop those abilities with his club.
It is crucial that Ten Hag has faith in Pellistri to perform the fundamentals if the young winger is to start against Brighton on Saturday. Fortunately, Bielsa will have spent the previous week drilling them into him.