Mason Greenwood gives Ralf Rangnick food for thought amid Marcus Rashford struggles

Mason Greenwood gave Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick much to ponder in his first start under the German.

Greenwood’s man-of-the-match display in United’s 1-1 draw with Young Boys was a reminder of the 20-year-old forward’s prodigious talent and why Rangnick may find it hard to leave him out of his first-choice line-up.

With Marcus Rashford struggling for form, Greenwood’s acrobatic bicycle kick goal and marauding display have given him a chance of taking the place of his England colleague for tomorrow’s Premier League trip to Norwich.

After Greenwood’s stunning performance, Rangnick acknowledged the Bradford-born striker as a “massive talent”, one whose versatility in being able to play across the forward line makes him such a key asset.

Former United defender Rio Ferdinand went even further, heaping praise on Greenwood and questioning why, with him in such formidable form and with the attacking threat he poses, he continues to be overlooked for selection by England boss Gareth Southgate.

“I love him, there’s not enough words for me to describe what I feel about this boy as a player, because he’s a beautiful footballer,” said Ferdinand.

Mason Greenwood of Manchester United celebrating
Mason Greenwood of Manchester United celebrating

“When he came into the team, everyone spoke about his finishing, because that’s what you see straight away, but when you actually break his game down, he’s so efficient in what he does.

“Receiving the ball, he angles his body movement to receive balls and what I like about him is very rarely do you see him get tackled. He’s very elusive with the ball. He takes the ball away from defenders.

“There are so many things you can love about his game. Yes, there are things to work on, he’s a young kid so that’s inevitable, but the ceiling for this kid is so high.

“Even pressing, I’ve seen his stats in terms of sprints and high-intensity runs. What he could be if he dedicates himself to the game like he is at the moment and continues, keeps growing and taking the opportunity like he is at the moment.

“England are missing out at the moment, because he can come in and add value to that team.”

This season, under former boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 4-2-3-1 system, Greenwood’s only option, if selected, was to play in either of the wide roles, with Cristiano Ronaldo playing through the middle.

But with interim boss Rangnick favouring a 4-2-2-2 formation, with two holding midfielders, two No.10s and two strikers, there is a place up for grabs up front alongside Ronaldo.

Rashford partnered Ronaldo in Rangnick’s first game in charge, a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, but Greenwood is pushing hard to start against Norwich tomorrow at Carrow Road.

It's been a tough season for Rashford so far
It’s been a tough season for Rashford so far

Although he only turned 20 in October, Greenwood has already made 122 appearances for United, scoring 35 goals. Solskjaer identified him as the best finisher at United, at just 18, and his ability to score with either foot is a precious commodity in the modern game,

Former United midfielder Owen Hargreaves echoed fellow BT Sport pundit Ferdinand when he said of Greenwood: “He’s pretty special. There’s a lot of players out there who have cost a lot of money, who have been brought from other teams.

“Mason is through the academy and he’s probably the most talented one. Ralf gets to see him in a live setting and see him score a goal like that.

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“He’s one of the best finishers at the club, can play multiple positions, he’s good on the ball and people always talk about his finishing, but his ability to use the ball and receive the ball doesn’t get enough credit.

“I think he’s going to be one of those who will be in the starting line-up soon.

“If Ralf was going to buy him, it would cost a fortune. You see Amad Diallo, they paid £35-40million for him.

“Mason is in the Phil Foden category in terms of how do you put a price on him? He’s a diamond.”

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