Twice in the last 18 months Manchester United have travelled to face PSG in their own backyard seemingly shorn of hope. And twice Marcus Rashford has come up big, overshadowing French wonder-kid and World Cup winner, Kylian Mbappe.
Rashford has scored late wining goals on each occasion as first United eliminated PSG from the competition in March 2019, then just a couple of days ago ensured three crucial group points would travel back with the team to Manchester.
Rashford likes the Parc des Princes and seemingly the venue sat in the south-west of Paris likes the Manchester United 22-year-old too.
Of course the United man cannot point to a World Cup winner’s medal, nor multiple national championships, but how does he stack up against Mbappe, a world champion at just 19?
Clearly Mbappe is the hottest property in world football at the moment, and looks sure to leave Paris at the end of this season, with his most likely destination Real Madrid, although there’s an admiration on the youngster’s part for Liverpool. If Jurgen Klopp’s charisma and powers of persuasion get to work, who knows?
But as Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer said post United’s latest Parc des Princes victory, both will be top class strikers over the next 10-15 years.
Rashford is by 14 months the older, and while he’s not as prolific as the Frenchman there is an argument Mbappe is playing in a less competitive league and is part of side that generally performs better in Europe (although not against United).
Mbappe however appears more ruthless and direct when presented with an opportunity. It’s almost as though he thinks, “GOAL,” and set’s off. Rashford often still looks for a colleague better-placed, so the argument that Mbappe is a more natural goalscorer probably holds water.
Former United centre-back Rio Ferdinand speaking on BT Sport, agrees...
“Rashford can definitely be world class if he keeps improving.
“He needs to add that poacher’s element to his game. When Wayne Rooney signed for United he scored outrageous goals, he didn’t score ugly goals. He became obsessed with scoring.
“Marcus scores fantastic goals and creates fantastic goals - if he can create that ugly side to the game then this kid can be unbelievable.
“The difference between Rashford and Mbappe is when Mbappe gets the ball I’m on the edge of my seat because he shapes up to go for goal. Marcus will have a look up and think about it a bit more.”
Mbappe is about to smash Lionel Messi’s record as the youngest player to reach 20 Champions League goals. He’s on 19. Had David De Gea not made that fantastic second-half save from the 21-year-old, he’d be there already. Messi set the record in 2010 at 22 years and 267 days. Mbappe has plenty of time.
Rashford’s industry is greater. In the most recent game he covered almost 2km more than the younger man, who seemed at times, like strike partner Neymar Junior, not all that bothered about tracking back after losing possession. Perhaps a laziness is creeping into Mbappe’s game?
Neymar is probably not the greatest role model for him to play alongside. Actually, the values of hard work and discipline displayed by the striker who recently switched between the clubs, provides a better example for the young Frenchman. Cavani, the Uruguayan, may not posses the raw talent of Neymar Jnr, but his professionalism, attitude and conduct are on a much higher plane.
Having already been the subject of a £165m transfer and securing a World Cup winners’ medal before reaching 21, the smart money is on Mbappe when it comes to considering which of the pair will become the more celebrated.
But Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer knows what he has on his hands with Rashford who’s been around so long now many tend to forget he’s still developing in the game. “Marcus is a good footballer and he has quality.
“He took his goal very well and he has developed to be a very good striker. “
And in a direct reference to Mbappe, as well as his own man... “Both players seem very humble and hard working. It’s nice to see them succeed.”