Former Manchester United academy coach and Wigan Athletic boss Warren Joyce has insisted that Marcus Rashford is in the same category as Paul Pogba.
The 19-year-old erupted onto the world scene 11 months ago in emphatic fashion with a series of mesmerising, game-deciding performances up front, culminating in a place on the plane to France with Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad over the summer.
He has continued to impress under Jose Mourinho, despite featuring on a less regular basis, claiming six goals so far in all competitions.
And Joyce, who left Man United’s academy for the Wigan job last year, believes that the Englishman has the same level of ability as Pogba.
“There are certain tick boxes for the X factor players. Some – like Pogba – tick every box,” he said.
“The more Xs in those boxes the more difficult it is to reach the very top. But Marcus is in that same category as Pogba.
“He’s a good footballer as well as a goalscorer. He’s clever, he’s tough, he’s quick.”
Joyce was lucky enough to witness the talent of Pogba and Rashford before the watching world. He saw them not as the coveted, internationally known superstars that they are now, but instead as rough diamonds, striving to achieve the tantalising but often elusive dream of becoming a professional footballer.
It was clear to anybody who, back in 2011, made the journey to Stockport to watch United’s youngsters that Pogba – even at such a ripe age – was a complete talent, blessed with natural midfield prowess: his passing, first touch, ability to turn out of trouble and rampage forward all looked astonishingly innate. Everybody would come away from reserve games gushing over the raw attacking brilliance of Ravel Morrison, but Pogba possessed a greater sense of roundness, almost as if his maturity on the pitch outweighed that of anybody else.
And Rashford, needless to say, espouses that same aura of natural brilliance. Most English forwards surge forward in a kind of gritty, bustling way, as if running through an obstacle course of cattle prods, but the youngster from Wythenshawe gives off an air of breeziness whenever he holds the ball, and such an approach will undoubtedly help him progress even further under Jose Mourinho.