Diego Forlan received a call from an old Manchester United teammate during lockdown. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted to speak to the then Penarol manager about his young winger Facundo Pellistri, 18. “He asked me lots of questions about Facundo and I gave him lots of answers,” the Uruguayan tells the Post . “There was a lot of interest in the player and I could understand why. He’s very quick and goes past players easily. He was doing that even when it was not a good moment for the team. He likes receiving the ball in midfield and moving forward with it. Even though he was young, I put him in my team every week. He can play on the right but also the left. He’s two-footed like I was and he tries to dribble like Ryan Giggs.” Real Madrid, Manchester City and Lyon were all interested the right-sided midfielder. Pellistri impressed not just with his speed, his through balls, his aggressive pressing and fast powers of recovery but also because he was considered calm under pressure. He made more crosses per game than any player in Uruguay last season and Forlan thinks he’s going to be a top footballer – if he continues to listen and learn. Forlan’s assessment was realistic. “I told Ole he has a lot of potential, but he has to keep developing. I told Facundo many times: ‘There are not players like you in Uruguay, but if you go to Europe, which attracts the best in the world, there will be many others who are very fast – and stronger than you too. You have potential but it depends on you to improve.” Precocious Mason Greenwood will need to learn his lessons, but Man United could craft him into a superstar United fans should not be expecting the complete article. The average age of a Premier League debut is 22. United have given debuts to teenagers after signing – most famously Cristiano Ronaldo – but that’s not the norm and even Ronaldo took 18 months to find his feet in England. Pellistri is exciting going forward, but he still has much to learn in front of goal. He’s scored twice in 37 games. He’s no assist king either. His former manager, who went on to win the golden ball in the 2010 World Cup finals after a tricky time at Old Trafford, describes him as a nice guy from a close family. “Facundo is shy. He works hard, he trains hard, he’s professional. He speaks English and he went to a good private school. He has many attributes and I explained these to Ole, but fans have to be patient because he’s 18 years old and has much hard work ahead of him. He’s at the start of his career. He needs to understand that he has done nothing yet and that he’s not a star. He’s arriving at a big club and he’s done well to get to that point, but I’ve been there. It’s hard. You need dedication, lots of hard work and some luck too.” Manchester United’s Donny van de Beek a solid signing but first team requires further bolstering Pellistri’s path to Manchester was made easier by a Spanish passport which meant he could play in the European Union. Forlan, who spent a season playing for Kitchee in Hong Kong in the twilight of his playing career, also held a Spanish passport from his Basque grandparents and can speak from experience of arriving in England as a young player. “I told Facundo that Manchester (United) is a good place because they don’t hurry players. They don’t rush; they will wait for him to improve. It’s a good city to be a professional too, a football city where the fans are respectful and supportive.” United signed two Uruguayans on deadline day. The second, Edinson Cavani, is much better known and Forlan played up front alongside him and Luis Suarez for the Uruguay team which reached the World Cup semi-finals and won the Copa America. “Edinson is still a great player,” said Forlan of the 33-year-old, who could make his debut against his former club Paris Saint-Germain next Tuesday. “I’ve not seen any decline in him yet. I think he’s a top signing for United, just like Zlatan was. He’s that type of player. He’ll lead by example, by how he trains and how he plays. He’ll be a positive influence for the young players. He’s a winner who has won lots of trophies, a goalscorer who has scored wherever he has been, he assists too. He’s strong and his physique will be fine for English football. He’s quick, he’s highly motivated.” Cavani has scored 341 goals and 65 assists in 556 club games. Manchester United are desperate for a spark after a poor start to this season, one the coaches think is down to a lack of a proper preseason and fitness. That may be so, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs wins. His team play at Newcastle on Saturday, scene of an embarrassing defeat for them last season. A repeat would be unpalatable, but the preparation for Saturday’s game isn’t ideal. United have five new signings, but only three of them could be considered ready to play at Newcastle. One is Pellistri, but he only arrived at the Carrington training ground on Wednesday and trained with who was available. Which wasn’t many. United are investing heavily in youthful talents like Pellistri but they’ll take time to come good – and patience isn’t strong among fans right now after a poor start to the season.