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Gary Neville has said Manchester United academy graduate Mason Greenwood looks “the real deal” and rated the youngster as “a better finisher” than Marcus Rashford after his equaliser in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Everton.
Greenwood, 18, came off the bench in the second half with United trailing 1-0 at Old Trafford, and he cancelled out Victor Lindelof’s first-half own-goal with a wicked left-footed finish from the edge of the box.
Former United defender Neville appeared on his Sky Sports podcast following the game and praised the teenager’s calmness under pressure, ranking him above Rashford in the finishing department:
“I like Greenwood a lot. The composure that he shows at such a young age, his great physical presence.
“The way in which he finishes is that of a top centre-forward. Sometimes when you see a young player in front of goal, they panic a bit and snatch at things—(Daniel) James and (Jesse) Lingard do that quite a lot.
“But I’d say Greenwood is a better finisher than Rashford—and that’s saying something. He really does look the real deal. I think Solskjaer knows that and he’s going to bleed him in.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has promoted a host of youngsters to the senior side this season, and Greenwood came off the bench to score his second goal in four Premier League appearances:
Anyone aware of the forward’s potential and undeniable rise through United’s ranks this year won’t be surprised at his confidence in front of goal. He netted 26 times in 26 appearances for the club’s under-18s and reserves last season and is now making his mark in the senior side.
Neville’s comments suggest Greenwood could be considered the best natural finisher at Old Trafford despite his age, and OptaJoe highlighted he shares elite company among young scorers in Europe:
The ex-England defender lauded United for their consistent ability to produce first-team players from the academy but added major signings are still required:
“You saw it with 20 minutes to go against Everton, they needed someone in midfield who could pull the strings, someone up top who could lead the line and bring other players into play. That’s something that’s desperately missing at the moment.
“Solskjaer himself will want two or three quality players in as quickly as possible so these youngsters can demonstrate their real quality.”
Greenwood has seven senior goals in 19 appearances this season. Rashford has recovered from a slow start to the campaign and boasts 13 goals in 22 outings across all competitions, seven of which have come in his past nine league games.
ESPN’s Alex Shaw compared United’s latest striking gem to Robin van Persie and urged Solskjaer to give him more starts:
Greenwood has bagged four goals and recorded two assists during United’s UEFA Europa League campaign. They topped their group ahead of AZ Alkmaar, against whom the youngster scored two goals and created another during a recent 4-0 thrashing.
One of his goals against AZ was almost a carbon copy of Sunday’s strike past England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, illustrating his acute nose for goal when given the slightest opportunity, per Statman Dave:
Rashford, 22, was similarly prolific when he first broke into United’s first team at the beginning of 2016, and he too had more senior figures in front of him in the striker pecking order at the time.
One of Rashford, Anthony Martial or Daniel James would likely have to give way in order for Greenwood to start, and there may be a limit to how long Solskjaer can keep such an accomplished finisher on the bench.