He takes penalties with either foot and the boss thinks he’s a better finisher than Rashford and Martial: Mason Greenwood is the £1,000-a-week 17-year-old whose eye-catching talent persuaded United to let Lukaku and Sanchez join Inter Milan
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sees Mason Greenwood as United’s most natural finisher
- The 17-year-old has caught the eye of his team-mates with his displays in training
- United let Lukaku and Sanchez leave as they think Greenwood is a safer bet
- He doesn’t seemed fazed in the slightest by the opportunities that lie before him
- The youngster may be handed second league start at Southampton on Saturday
Who, of Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial, is Manchester United’s best finisher? Ole Gunnar Solskjaer delivered the answer with a wink but do not let that fool you.
‘Mason’s more of a natural finisher than them two,’ Solskjaer grinned. Given how those around United enthuse when the name Mason Greenwood is mentioned, he probably meant every word.
Right foot or left foot, the 17-year-old is banging them in at Carrington, leaving an impression on his team-mates and indicating exactly why the manager has let two experienced strikers leave without replacing them.
Mason Greenwood has progressed quickly and will get a proper, extended chance this season
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Greenwood is the best natural finished in his United squad
Whether Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez’s exits are viewed as sound or silly will become crystal clear pretty quickly – United are adamant it will be the former – but what cannot be disputed is Solskjaer’s admirable insistence on giving the teenager a proper, extended chance this season.
Greenwood is not 18 until October, still earning under £1,000 a week on his first professional deal signed last year, and is seen as a safer bet than Sanchez. That says as much about how quickly the teenager has progressed since Solskjaer’s appointment as it does how sharply the Chilean, now at Inter Milan for the campaign, regressed.
The goals in pre-season offered a perfect start, the first during victory over Leeds in Perth to get the ball rolling and the second clinical against Inter in Singapore. Greenwood chopped from right foot to left and thrashed into the far corner as Inter watched.
Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez were allowed to leave as Greenwood was seen a safer bet
A young and smiling Greenwood pictured holding the Champions League trophy
‘I am sure he will grab his chance because everything is there,’ Solskjaer said. ‘He is two-footed. That first goal will be a weight off his shoulders.’
Eighteenth birthdays usually spring new contracts and you would expect Greenwood to be penning one of those sooner rather than later – even though his current deal runs until 2021.
The rise to the first team has been coming. Jose Mourinho took him on tour last summer, albeit because of absences following the World Cup, and a collection of the club’s stars have known about him for some time.
Greenwood showed his ability of with a stunning finish in pre-season against Inter Milan
The 17-year-old has also earned high praise from his Manchester Untied team-mates
Clips of his goals in the academy teams have circulated around the dressing room for more than 12 months and felt only a matter of time before he then became integrated into Solskjaer’s squad. His 30 goals in 29 games for the academy teams last year came as no surprise. Neither was the Jimmy Murphy award in May.
Greenwood is close with James Garner, the midfielder United also hope will blossom. Rashford has spoken eloquently about the forward’s rise, so too Scott McTominay.
‘Mason has just grown and grown and in every single training session you’re seeing more from him,’ McTominay said.
‘The manager was a striker and I’m sure Mason will be getting a lot of different coaching and different ways in which he can follow in the footsteps of some amazing strikers that have played at this football club.’
He became youngest man to play for United in Europe since Norman Whiteside last season
Greenwood is presented with the Young Player of the Year award by Neil Ryan back in May
When United practise penalties, Greenwood takes them with either foot. It doesn’t sound like he’s fazed by the opportunities that lie before him; how could it, after Solskjaer threw him a debut in search of a goal away at Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League? The youngest man to play for United in Europe since Norman Whiteside.
Greenwood has definitely added energy to the attack when coming off the bench early in the season. He is capable of playing across a front three and certainly no slouch, either. Solskjaer has different options of where to introduce him and it’ll be intriguing to see if the youngster is thrown in against Southampton this weekend.
Anthony Martial is struggling with a thigh injury and, given how few attackers United now have at their disposal, St Mary’s could well be the scene of Greenwood’s second ever Premier League start. Don’t back against Solskjaer handing him the shirt.
With Anthony Martial struggling with a thigh issue, Greenwood may get a chance this weekend