Juan Mata backs Marcus Rashford to become vital for club and country

by Leo Nieboer

Juan Mata has backed Marcus Rasford to emerge as a “big” player for both club and country following his match-winning display for England against Slovakia.

The teenager sent a big message to Jose Mourinho by coming on to claim a vital opening goal against Leicester City after being benched by Anthony Martial.

And he has proven to be equally decisive for England after claiming an assist for Eric Dier before netting a superb second half winner to hand Gareth Southgate’s men a 2-1 win.

Speaking earlier this week, Mata made it clear that, from day one, everybody knew Rashford was a special talent.

“I’m not surprised,” he said.

“Since the first moment we saw him in training, we thought he was something special.

“And he’s making it real. He’s scoring for England, for us [Manchester United] and he has been a really good player and a real threat for opposition defenders.

“I think he can be even bigger. He has a great mentality and great qualities to become a big, big player.”

Most 19-year-olds featuring for the first team at a top club get by through serving as reliable, disciplined cogs, capable of matching the side’s tempo and giving others a platform to succeed.

But Rashford, ever since his debut, has been so much more than that. This is a player who decides games in emphatic fashion.

Arsenal, Manchester City, West Ham United, Hull City, Anderlect, Celta Vigo and Slovakia are just a selection of the sides to suffer at the hands of the teenager’s ruthless, pendulum-swinging edge so far, and he is only just getting started.

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