Wednesday 17 January 2018

Rio Ferdinand has gone ridiculously overboard in his latest assessment of Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford Photo: PA
Marcus Rashford Photo: PA

Tom Rooney

Forget Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and, for that matter, Zlatan Ibrahimović - Marcus Rashford is the best centre forward currently plying his trade in the Premier League, or so says Rio Ferdinand.

There’s nothing quite like some outrageous hyperbole to heap on the shoulders of a promising English footballer.

When has that particular endeavour ever aided in the full realisation of a precocious talent?

Rio Ferdinand should probably know better because, once upon a time, he was that promising English footballer.

That said, Ferdinand’s gilded career at Manchester United was utterly befitting of his prowess.

However, the spotlight burns far brighter than it did 15 years ago, and hardly a day goes by when Rashford’s meteoric rise over the last six months is not a source of discussion.

Manchester United and England fans, as well as the pundit class, were certainly less than impressed with the lack of game time Rashford - for club and country - was being afforded as the new season kicked into the gear.

Jose Mourinho has started the 18-year-old in United’s last two league ties, against Watford and Leicester, and Rashford responded by registering in each of them.

Those exploits took his league tally this term to three goals in four appearances, two of which have been off the bench.

Furthermore, he got on the scoresheet as United laboured to victory over Northampton Town in the EFL Cup.

When the erstwhile Sam Allardyce omitted the teen from his first and last England squad, siting a lack of first team football, Rashford fired home a spectacular hat-trick against Norway on his debut for Gareth Southgate’s U21s.

With Southgate now installed as the interim senior manager, Ferdinand has called for Rashford’s inclusion in the group for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia.

“I think Marcus Rashford should be selected for the senior squad next week and be unleashed against Malta.

“Including his hat-trick for the U21s against Norway earlier this month, no English striker has scored more goals since he made his professional debut in February.”

Rio Ferdinand criticised several England managers for their failure to cultivate a team ethos Photo: PA News

Few could argue with Ferdinand’s reasoning with regards to the national set-up, but he soon went off the reservation a little when ranking Rashford among the elite strikers of the Premier League.

“I don’t care how old you are, that record warrants a place in the squad. He has been the best striker in this country since February in terms of output – the statistics don’t lie.”

Since last February, Rashford has scored 12 goals in 25 appearances for United, all but four of which have been netted in the league.

But to put things into perspective, James Milner has scored as many league goals since the present campaign got underway.

Rashford will likely have the opportunity to add to his haul this evening at Old Trafford, where United entertain Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League from 8.05.

Earlier today, Rashford was one of 30 to be nominated for the Golden Boy, an award which honours players under the age of 21 who play in Europe’s top leagues.

Among others, he faces competition from Dele Alli, Moussa Dembele and Renato Sanches. United teammate Anthony Martial scooped the gong last year.

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