Former Manchester United defender Matteo Darmian believes Marcus Rashford can reach the level of Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe and compete for the Ballon d’Or in the coming years.
Darmian spent four seasons at Old Trafford after being a surprise acquisition by Louis Van Gaal in 2015 but is now back in Italy with Parma after leaving in August.
The Italian defender’s spell did not work out at United, but from what he saw of Rashford, he thinks the sky is the limit for the 22-year-old.
“I still remember Marcus Rashford’s first session with the senior squad like it was yesterday,” Darmian told the Guardian’s Fabrizio Romano in a brilliant wide-ranging interview.
“I immediately thought: ‘wow, this is an incredible player’. He did so many impressive things for a player of his age and the way he improved in every detail really impressed me.”
“If he continues to work the way he has done so far he can be a Ballon d’Or winner. I’m convinced of this. He impressed me the most of all the players at United and he’s very young and can still improve. For me he can reach the level of Kylian Mbappé and compete for the Ballon d’Or for years to come.”
This is some praise from a player who saw first hand just how talented Rashford is.
The England international was enjoying his most prolific season at the club and was competing for the Premier League golden boot award with 14 goals before a serious back injury sustained against Wolves in January halted his progress.
He has found a home in the inside left attacking position under Solskjaer, where he is allowed the freedom to run at defenders and punish opposition on the counter-attack.
There is no doubt that Rashford is one of the most talented players in world football. But fans won’t get carried away with the academy graduate and there is plenty of work to do before he can even be considered a contender for the most prestigious individual award in the sport.
Rashford has shown glimpses of brilliance but must prove he can produce on a consistent basis over the next few years if he is to be talked about as one of Europe’s best players.