Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has hailed the off-ball improvements of Marcus Rashford this season, while also comparing him to Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe.
Rashford came into the 2022/23 season off the back of his worst campaign to date, netting just five goals in 32 games for the Red Devils in a miserable year at Old Trafford.
But the 25-year-old has looked reinvigorated since Ten Hag took charge, earning back a place in the England squad and scoring three times for them at this winter’s World Cup.
Speaking over the weekend about Rashford’s development, Ten Hag was full of praise for United’s number ten.
“From the first moment, I recognised huge potential,” he stated. “And now to get out the potential, I believe when Marcus’s positioning is on the back of the defending line, there is almost no better player in the world.
“There is Mbappe in this moment, a type like him. But when he [Rashford] is getting in that position, he’s great and you see he’s really improved also out of possession.
“You see the second goal against Wales [at the World Cup] when he’s winning the ball for the team and then it was [Phil] Foden who finished and I see him do that all the time, the first press. He’s doing a really good job there for England.
“One of the first things I said to him was come to training and smile. We bring him exercises that hopefully bring players joy. They have to be effective but they have to be joyful as well and that gives you energy when you are happy. When you see the benefit of it you can be happy.
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“Actually, Marcus was one from the start who came with a smile to Carrington and left with a smile day by day. And from the first moment, it really was a joy to work with him. I recognise his talent and his finishing talent [is] great.
“For instance, the headed goal against West Ham United, I don’t think he makes goals like that so often. But he’s investing in it, I triggered him a little bit, he worked with our specific coaches on it, on finishing with headers and then you see he got the benefit from it.
“So when I say he is the one who plays on the shoulder from the defending line, make sure you’re coming in such situations and it’s really difficult to stop him.”
Rashford’s England were dumped out of the World Cup by Mbappe’s France on Saturday night, with Les Bleus prevailing 2-1 in their quarter-final.