Former Manchester United full-back Phil Neville has insisted that Marcus Rashford is in the same bracket as Paris Saint Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele.
The Englishman enjoyed a superb first full season in the first team under Jose Mourinho, making more appearances than any other first team player and winning two major honours.
And he has made a rip-roaring start to the 2017/18 campaign, taking his tally for this season to five goals with a brace during Man United’s 4-1 win over Burton Albion.
Speaking soon after the game, Neville made it clear that Rashford deserves to be in the same bracket as Mbappe and Dembele.
“Everybody praises Ousmane Dembele and Kylian Mbappe but nobody talks about Rashford in this country,” he said.
“Because he’s English we just say ‘he plays on the left wing, he’s OK’. He is up there with Dembele and Mbappe, who also play on either wing. People say you have to play Rashford as a centre-forward but you can play him anywhere because he is good enough.
“Rashford is in the same bracket as those two – £100m-£150m players – he is every bit as good as those two and can be in the future because he is improving every season.
“He broke in under Louis van Gaal and set the world on fire, in his second season under Jose Mourinho everyone thought he wouldn’t play but he did in all the big games. Now he is adding goals to his game and he can be absolutely world class.”
Rashford’s demographic, as Neville notes, precludes him from being recognised as on par with any player under the age of 21, but make no mistake: Mbappe and Dembele should be looking up to him.
The pair established themselves last season and, in turn, became two of the three players over the summer to earn a move to a big club for over £100m.
Rashford, on the other hand, has been grafting in United’s first team for over a year and a half. He was playing at the Euros before anyone knew who either Mbappe and Dembele were. Very few youngsters have been so integral to their club at the highest level for so long, with Youri Tielemans and Gianluigi Donnarumma serving as rare examples.
He does not get the recognition he deserves. But that doesn’t matter to Rashford. His emphasis will always be on working hard and, soon enough, nobody will be able to avoid him.