Mata reveals when Man Utd squad first noticed Rashford’s ‘special’ talent

The Red Devils midfielder claims to have known from a first training session with an exciting forward that he was destined to reach the very top

Juan Mata claims those at Manchester United recognised that Marcus Rashford was a “special” talent in his very first training session with the senior side.

Louis van Gaal was at the Red Devils’ helm when an academy graduate was given the opportunity to prove himself on a competitive stage.

The injury struggles of others had worked in Rashford’s favour, with United in need of attacking inspiration from somewhere.

A jet-heeled youngster provided it as he netted braces on his Europa League and Premier League debuts, before then going on to find the target on his bow for England.

Rashford, despite being just 21 years of age, is now an established star for club and country, with 170 appearances taken in for United.

They have bought into the future potential that can still be unlocked by tying a hot prospect to a new contract through to 2023.

Mata, who has also penned fresh terms at Old Trafford this summer, is delighted to see Rashford staying put as he has always been destined to reach the top.

The World Cup winner told reporters at a Soccerex event of when he first noticed Rashford’s ability: “He’s been great for us since he started and when he trained with the first team [for the first time], we felt there was something special about him and he’s doing it.

“He’s making some good steps in his evolution and he’s a great player in great condition. He has a good mentality, which is very important for his age.

“He’s scoring goals for England and for us, so we’re happy to have him in our team. He can change the game with one sprint or one piece of skill.

“He’s a great talent who will hopefully continue to be great for Manchester United and England for many years to come.”

Rashford recorded 13 goals for United in the 2018-19 campaign, with a personal best return of 10 efforts plundered in the Premier League.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping for more to come next term, with the Red Devils having rewarded a prized asset with a lucrative deal as he forms part of a project that is placing greater emphasis on exciting youngsters.

Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have already been snapped up this summer, with there the promise of more additions to come before the latest transfer window slams shut.

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