Former Manchester United youth coach Paul McGuinness has revealed that Marcus Rashford wanted to play like Andrea Pirlo when he was younger.
McGuiness was part of the youth set-up at Man United for nine years and oversaw the progression of players like Wes Brown, Danny Welbeck and Paul Pogba before departing last year.
He would have been delighted to see Rashford, who made more appearances than any other Man United player, impress as both a winger and striker under Jose Mourinho last season.
However, speaking to M.E.N, McGuinness revealed that there was a time when Rashford wanted to play like Pirlo.
“He could be a No10, a winger, beat people, he used to drop off into midfield. There was one tournament where he wanted to play like Pirlo. But we saw his potential to be a striker.
“We worked on his body shape, different runs. He’s a really, really intelligent lad in terms of football. He picked it up very quickly.”
Like Rashford, I used to play as either a striker or winger, but there were always times when I couldn’t resist the urge to drop into the base of midfield and attempt to adopt the unique swagger of Pirlo.
This was, of course, a fruitless exercise. Nobody can even begin to replicate the slightest iota of the precision and nonchalant charm effortlessly mastered by Pirlo. You realise that trying to dictate proceedings like Pirlo requires you to know when to not move for the ball, drifting into space instead and waiting for it to come to you. Playing with such awareness demands an almost heuristic knowledge of both your opponents and your teammates.
And you always sensed that Pirlo understood the movements of a midfield battle before they even happened; he always knew where to be, how to be there and what to do next. It was majestic, and football should thank him for what he offered.
And unlike Rashford, I never managed to master either playing as a striker or out wide. The youngster, on the other hand, is improving at a rapid rate under Mourinho.