Paddy McNair
McNair emerged as a key figure in the United first team last term.Getty Images

Manchester United defender Paddy McNair has spoken of his honour in following the likes of Xavi and Toni Kroos in being handed debuts by Louis van Gaal.

Van Gaal regularly picked young players during his spells at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, unearthing the likes of Patrick Kluivert, Victor Valdes and Thomas Muller, as well as Xavi and Kroos.

After earning his debut in the win over West Ham United in September during United's early-season defensive injury crisis, McNair went on to make 18 appearances in all competitions last season.

Such a contribution saw the Northern Irish international handed a new contract until June 2017 and McNair says he owes his success to the faith showed in him by the manager.

"I love playing for Van Gaal, I really enjoy it and hopefully that will continue for many more years to come," the 20-year-old told the Manchester Evening News.

"When you see the young players he has given a chance to in the past at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, it's nice of him to show faith in me with a new contract."

After a shaky start to life in the United first team, McNair marked his third start with his most impressive performance to date at Arsenal where Van Gaal's side kept the hosts at bay for long periods to snatch a 2-1 win.

McNair began his career as an attacking midfielder but has since been nurtured into a defender but as he attempts to nail down a regular place in the United team he hopes to bring some of that assurance on the ball to his play.

"I quite enjoy playing both in midfield and defence, I'd be happy playing in either area of the pitch," added McNair.

"I think I'm a ball-player rather than a ball-winner. I just love having the ball at my feet. I know I'm a centre-back but I love dribbling and I like trying to take people on. Centre-backs shouldn't really be doing that but I do try.

"You see all the top teams like Barcelona playing out from the back — we are a top team too.

"Moving forward, I'd like to try and nail down a place in the United team, just try and play as many games as I can and hopefully the trophies come."