Louis van Gaal hailed Marcus Rashford as a “special talent” after the teenager marked his Premier League debut for Manchester United with a dazzling double in their 3-2 win over Arsenal on Sunday.
Rashford had already scored twice on his first ever United start in the Europa League against FC Midtjylland on Thursday, and he continued his astonishing rise to prominence by tormenting the Arsenal defence at Old Trafford.
The 18-year-old netted twice in the space of three minutes in the first half with a cool finish and a glancing header, before providing the assist for Ander Herrera’s second half strike.
Rashford’s heroics were well-timed for van Gaal, who has been under mounting pressure this season, and the United manager was quick to praise the Manchester-born youngster’s potential.
“The experience of mine is youngsters always play well the first match. The second match is different. Marcus played well in both matches so he is a special talent,” van Gaal said.
“We have a small squad because then you can give youngsters a chance. A big squad means they don’t get a chance.”
Asked where Rashford’s debut ranked among the best he had seen, the former Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Ajax boss placed the teenager in an elite group.
“I can imagine a lot of them. Patrick Kluivert makes the winning goal (for Ajax) in the Super Cup in the Netherlands,” he said.
“Xavi, fantastic against I think Valladolid (for Barcelona) and also Thomas Mueller a fantastic debut. He was playing in the second team (for Bayern Munich).”