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Ryan Giggs: Marcus Rashford needs to play as a striker

by Leo Nieboer

Ryan Giggs has noted that Marcus Rashford would be best used as a No.9 rather than playing out wide for Manchester United and England.

The teenager erupted onto the world scene with a series of scintillating displays up front under Louis van Gaal but has featured primarily as a winger since Jose Mourinho arrived.

He impressed at No.9 during the latter stages of last season following Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s injury, scoring crucial goals against Anderlecht and Celta Vigo, but will have to settle with a place out wide following Romelu Lukaku’s introduction, as well as the Swede’s return in December.

But Giggs, speaking soon after England’s 4-0 win over Malta, insisted that Rashford will end up playing as a striker.

“Like you say, he’s not going to play centre-forward of United too often with Lukaku, Ibrahimovic as well,” he said.

“For England with (Harry) Kane, he’s not going to play centre-forward.”

“He can definitely play out wide, but eventually he’s going to be a No 9. I see similarities with Thierry Henry myself, he’s brilliant off the left.

“Even if he’s playing centre-forward, he drifts off to the left where you can take players on either side. But then, if he’s not played centre-forward a lot and all of a sudden Kane gets injured and you ask him to play up front, he can do it.”

Rashford himself has expressed a preference for playing up front, and you can see why: any young, bustling forward wants to be in positions where he can score goals. The 19-year-old may come across as an ostensibly shy, humble individual, but he wants to be the one who decides contests.

That can be harder to do out wide, of course, but there is unmistakeable value in occupying a wide role. Playing on the flank helps you refine your positional sense as a striker. From a close distance you can see where a striker ought to be – and where not to be – when a team pours forward, and this, no doubt, will only help the youngster mature further over the years.

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