Wonderkid Central Part 1: Ethan Ennis – The attacking prodigy who crossed enemy lines

Vatsal Gupta
By Vatsal Gupta
8 Min Read
Manchester-United-Ethan-Ennis

There are some lines in football transfers that just shouldn’t be crossed. Luis Figo, who moved to Real Madrid from Barcelona, can testify to it if he can get over the image of the severed pig ahead thrown at him by Barcelona fans. LiverpoolManchester United path is another. The rivalry between the two clubs is fierce and only eight players have moved between the clubs in football history. The last one was in 1964. In that vein, Ethan Ennis leaving Liverpool’s youth team to join Man United made a splash in 2021. Aged just 16 when he made the move, it caused shockwaves in the youth circuit.

Ethan Ennis was one of the most talented players in Liverpool’s ranks and for him to cross enemy lines and join Manchester United was a huge coup.

So, who is Ethan Ennis, what can Man United fans expect from him in the future, and what type of a player is he? Here are all the answers-

Who is Ethan Ennis?

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Born in Runcorn on December 11, 2004, Ethan Ennis is a right-footed attacker who can play across the front lines but prefers playing either on the right wing or as a second striker.

Ennis came through the youth ranks of Liverpool, where his name was said in excited terms, such was his potential. He made his debut for Liverpool U18s aged just 15. He scored a hattrick in the FA Youth Cup for Liverpool in 2020 after coming off the bench and playing just 26 minutes.

Ethan Ennis surprised the youth circuit when he rejected Liverpool’s contract of professional terms and instead joined United. Chelsea were also credited with an interest back then but his heart was set at Old Trafford.

Since then, Ennis has made appearances for Manchester United 18s in the U18 Premier League as well as the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League.

A serious cruciate ligament injury halted his promising progress as he failed to make an appearance in the 2022/23 season after a brilliant debut season for United.

Ethan Ennis’ stats

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In his maiden season for Manchester United, the 2021/22 season, Ethan Ennis’ stats made for an exciting reading. He scored 10 goals and created three in just 19 appearances.

He mainly played on the wings which added further credence to his eye for the goal and enormous potential. Ethan Ennis was starting to get blooded into the youth setup at the club as he made two appearances totalling 21 minutes in the FA Youth Cup as well. A solitary 22-minute appearance in the UEFA Youth League also came.

All in all, it was a spectacular debut season for the youngster as his choice to move to Manchester United paid off handsomely. He was all set to be promoted to the U23s but a serious injury struck him.

Ethan Ennis’ injury

 

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In August 2022, Ethan Ennis confirmed that his 2022/23 season would be over after being struck by a serious Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury.

The ACL injury is arguably the toughest injury to overcome in football. Ennis was looking at a recovery time of 8-9 months then a further month or two of recuperation and getting back match fitness. Needless to say, his season was over. In May 2023, Ennis gave an update, saying that he is back wearing football boots and his return is inching closer “slowly but surely”.

Ennis is looking ahead to a rewarding 2023/24 season after a frustrating spell on the sidelines.

Style of play

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Now that Ethan Ennis’ return is inching closer, it is worth noting what kind of a player he is.

At his best, Ethan Ennis is a multi-faceted attacker who is as good with his dribbling as he is on the technical side of things. Blessed with a lot of pace, certainly before his injury, Ennis would regularly take on his man and try to beat him off the dribble to cause chaos in the opposition’s defence.

He prefers to start deeper, where he can be more involved in the build-up play. From those positions, he likes to carry the ball forward with an adventurous dribble or play one-twos to run rings around the opposition.

Like Frank Lampard, his edge-of-the-box finishes became his trademark during his first season. Ennis would regularly pop up on the edge of the box and find space to get a shot away. He quickly became a scorer of great goals, while being a good goalscorer.

Potential

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The raw tools are all there. Pace, dribbling, passing, shooting, and the intangibles like when to pass, when to hold the ball, and release it. At this moment, the biggest question mark for Ennis is how he fares on his return from injury.

Generally, players who tear their ACL at such a young age face lingering problems for a long time. He would undoubtedly need to make up for his lost pace too.

However, if there’s one player who’s capable of doing so, it’s Ennis. That’s because the pace in his game was a bonus to an already glittering tree of all-around talent. He could easily transition into an advanced playmaker from midfield like Christian Eriksen, who starts deep to play progressive passes but is equally capable of scoring the odd goal.

Still, the best-case scenario for the player and the club will be if Ethan Ennis comes back roaring. He was the most exciting talent in United’s ranks in 2021/22 and a return to that form would be a big boost. A breakout like Alejandro Garnacho could even be on the cards near the end of next season if he picks up where he left off.

For now, he will focus on returning to his best from the serious injury. The potential is still limitless, just the time to realise it has been reduced by a year.

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