Wing man: Van Gaal says it is up to Mata to perform to keep his place

By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens

Louis van Gaal compared Marcus Rashford to European greats Xavi, Thomas Muller and Patrick Kluivert for making such an astonishing start to his career.

The 18-year-old striker followed up his two-goal debut for Manchester United on Thursday by scoring a double on an extraordinary Premier League debut against Arsenal on Sunday.

Rashford scored twice in the first half to put United 2-0 up against the title-challenging Gunners before providing the assist for Ander Herrera’s goal as the home side won 3-2.

Van Gaal, who has managed the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Ajax during a glittering managerial career, compared Rashford to some past and present giants of the world game.

Asked about memorable debut under his command, Van Gaal said: “I can imagine a lot of them. Patrick Kluivert makes the winning goal [for Ajax] in the Super Cup in the Netherlands. Xavi, fantastic against I think Valladolid [for Barcelona] and also Thomas Muller a fantastic debut. He was playing in the second team [for Bayern Munich].”

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Young gun: Rashford has been compared to Muller for amazing start to career
Young gun: Rashford has been compared to Muller for amazing start to career

Van Gaal has put huge faith in youth during his Old Trafford reign and said he is not surprised that the club’s young players are coming in and impressing.

“That is why we have a small selection because then you can give youngsters a chance. A big selection means they don’t get a chance,” he said at his post-match media briefing.

“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.”