Marcus Rashford’s stunning debut for Manchester United in their 5-1 Europa League victory over Midtjylland and his two goals against Arsenal could be the start of big things for the young striker.
The 18-year-old, who was drafted into the starting line-up against Midtjylland after an injury to Anthony Martial in the warm up, is the latest in a long line of academy products to make their debut this campaign.
However, he will be hoping to avoid comparisons with Federico Macheda, with the Italian once billed to be the next star of Old Trafford only to fail to impress for either Sir Alex Ferguson or David Moyes.
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Rashford’s brace came at a time where United needed him most, with his goals now teeing up a mouth-watering round of 16 clash with fierce rivals Liverpool in March.
United conceded early – leaving them 3-1 down on aggregate – but the 18-year-old forward rose to the occasion to score twice after an own-goal by Midtjylland defender Nikolay Bodurov.
The youngster also scored two against Arsenal at the weekend.
He showed signs of his youthful exuberance in the game, running inside the Arsenal defenders from the left touchline before being hauled down on the edge of the penalty area.
It was no surprise he was given a standing ovation when he came off in the 80th minute.
Injuries to Martial, Wayne Rooney and Will Keane could see him save Louis van Gaal’s job – if the Dutchman opts to stick with the youngster for the final few, crucial months of the campaign.
Rashford’s impressive debut has drawn comparisons with Macheda, whose unbelievable winner in United’s 3-2 victory over Aston Villa in 2009 ultimately catapulted him into the spotlight.
His spiky black hair and impressive physique reminded many of Cristiano Ronaldo, yet the Portuguese left mere months later and Macheda never really stood a chance of filling the void left by his departure.
Ferguson did his best to embed him into his side for his remaining years, but the presence of the likes of Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov, Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie ensured starting opportunities were hard to come by.
Macheda is now slowly but surely rebuilding his career in the Championship with Cardiff City, after failing to impress during loan spells away at Sampdoria, Queens Park Rangers and Birmingham City.
What Rashford does next could well determine whether he is cut out for life at the top or whether he is another player to peak too early.
Macheda has always been a cult hero at United for his goal against Villa, despite fading into mediocrity in the years that followed.
Rashford must do all he can to convince Van Gaal he can be a big hit at the club, or face his career going the same way as Macheda’s.
Will Rashford follow in Macheda's footsteps and end up in the Championship? Leave your comment in the opinion box below!
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