Nicky Butt: Marcus Rashford can develop into Thierry Henry at Man United

by Leo Nieboer

Former Manchester United midfielder and head of academy Nicky Butt has heaped praise on Marcus Rashford, labelling the youngster as unstoppable.

The 18-year-old generated headlines this week after producing an explosive display on his England Under 21 debut against Norway, netting a hat-trick and picking up the Man of the Match award in what could be his only appearance under Gareth Southgate.

His rip-roaring display led to Man United fans pleading for Rashford – who is yet to start under Jose Mourinho – to be included in the starting XI for the Manchester derby on Saturday.

In an interview with the Times, Butt was full of praise for the youngster.

“He wasn’t a centre forward as a youngster; he probably developed into that more out of necessity last season than design,” Butt said.

“He actually was on the left. I believe his best position is off the side.

“Blistering pace. When Marcus runs at you, you can’t stop him.

“Until he gets his physicality about him he’s going to find it very hard to play up against some of these centre-halves. It depends how the manager [Jose Mourinho] is going to play; if he plays a Michael Carrick, who can clip balls in for Marcus to run on to, then it’s all different, he can run in behind all day.”

At 18, Rashford was the youngest player on the pitch for England’s game with Norway. But make no mistake: this was men against boys. How must it feel for an Under 21 regular – someone like, say, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, one of the brightest young talents in England – to be completely and utterly overshadowed by somebody three years younger?

That level of raw, fearsome talent and sheer natural ability is, for an 18-year-old, practically unheard of. As an upcoming talent – somebody who has been ostensibly superior to anybody so far during their early development – pushing through the ranks, seeing Rashford strut his stuff must be demoralising – a damning reminder that this 18-year-old embodies what it takes to dominate at senior level.

Naturally, you’d probably feel like giving up.

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