Football

Mason Greenwood a ‘special talent’: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Solskjaer hails teen who scored solo goal against Brighton, Neville brothers liken him to van Persie

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described striker Mason Greenwood as a "special talent", after the teenager scored and provided an assist in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 3-0 English Premier League win at Brighton & Hove Albion.

Greenwood fired United ahead from a jinking solo run capped by a crisp low shot inside the near post, before delivering an inch-perfect cross for Bruno Fernandes to volley home his second in the second half.

It was the 18-year-old Greenwood's sixth league goal in his breakthrough season - the most by a player aged 18 or under in a single EPL campaign since Wayne Rooney netted nine goals for Everton in 2003/04, according to Opta stats.

"He's a special talent, a special kid we're going to look after and try to develop into a top player," Solskjaer told a news conference.

"He's doing well now but he's still young and has things to learn...

"He's getting better. You can see clearly that he's maturing and improving. He's 18, so we will see more from him."

Greenwood's overall tally for the season stands at 13, six behind the club's joint-top scorers Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as Solskjaer reaps the rewards of showing faith in young players following the departure of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan.

Solskjaer said that he was also impressed by Greenwood's contributions off the ball.

"He played fantastically... we know when he gets his face up and looks forward that he's dangerous, but his hold-up play, general play and link-up play was great," Solskjaer told United's website.

"He's developing into a fine player... one of the better ones I've seen, to be fair."

That has been a sentiment shared by other influential figures in the corridors of Old Trafford.

Three or four years ago, legendary Red Devils manager Sir Alex Ferguson said at a League Managers' Association lunch of Greenwood: "I think we have found one."

Last week, former England and Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp said: "I remember talking to (United's head of first-team development) Nicky Butt about eight months ago.

"He said Mason Greenwood was the best young player he's ever seen at Manchester United.

"That is some statement considering all the players they've produced, like the Class of '92. There's nothing he can't achieve with his pace and power."

Butt's former teammate Gary Neville likened Greenwood to ex-Red Devils forward Robin van Persie.

'LIKE VAN PERSIE'

He said on Sky Sports: "He has justified his selection on that right side. It is getting to the point now where it is going to be impossible to leave him out.

"He reminds me so much of Robin van Persie, when he cuts in on his left foot off that right side, the composure and technique."

His brother Phil also made the comparison to the Dutchman, adding on DAZN: "The difference between Greenwood compared to (Anthony) Martial and (Marcus) Rashford is that Greenwood is a natural, ruthless finisher...

"This kid's got a massive future. I think he has everything."

While Greenwood might be the United youngster who is getting all of the hype, he acknowledged fellow young gun and academy product Angel Gomes after scoring.

Greenwood made an "A" sign with his fingers during his celebration, in reference to 19-year-old Gomes, who has left the club after his contract expired. - REUTERS

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