Jose Mourinho told Manchester United Under-19s squad that Victor Lindelof would become the “next big player” at Old Trafford ahead of his exit from the club.
That is according to Nicky Butt, who opened up about working with Mourinho during his time as head of first-team development at United.
Mourinho secured the services of Lindelof from Benfica for £31m in 2017, with the former United boss calling him a “very talented young player” at the time.
Despite the Special One’s sacking at United in 2018, Lindelof has remained a regular in the club’s first team under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
However, Lindelof now faces tough competition this season with the arrival of Raphael Varane, who is Solskjaer’s preferred option to partner with Harry Maguire.
United legend Butt has recalled how Mourinho told the United youngster how he backed the 27-year-old Swedish defender to become a huge success at Old Trafford.
Credit: PA“Jose sat with the under-19s ahead of a trip to Portugal,” he told The Athletic.
“He told them what to expect, he said that Victor Lindelof will be the next big player.
“Jose was good and, for an elite manager with his record, he was very, very good with me.”
Lindelof has partnered with Varane in United’s starting XI for the last three matches after Maguire picked up a calf injury in his side’s defeat to Aston Villa.
United legend Gary Pallister predicted that the Sweden captain would “still have a part to play” for his side this season, despite being demoted in favour of Varane.
Credit: PASpeaking on the idea of Lindelof being used in a defensive midfield role, he told the Manchester Evening News last month: “He possibly could do, but that’s the kind of role for Fred and [Scott] McTominay who like to play that role.
“I feel for Lindelof, I think he had a good season and didn’t do a lot wrong. It’s those small margins that make you Premier League champions and that’s something that Ole has had a look at.
“He felt like he needed someone with the mentality that Varane brings who’s won European Cups, La Liga titles and a World Cup! He brings a lot of experience, and he looks as if he looks after himself really well, he’s also still only 28 so he should be in the prime of his career.
“Lindelof will still have a part to play because there’s a lot of games and there will be injuries in the season. Ole will want to freshen things up from time to time and a lot of these players will have a big part to play.”