Louis Saha: Marcus Rashford will be proud of PSG links

 | March 18 | 

15 mins read

louis saha footy 1

Last week in the British tabloids, it was suggested that Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain are poised to make a £75 million bid to sign Marcus Rashford this summer. Louis Saha believes this move can only come to fruition if Rashford is unhappy at Old Trafford, but concedes that the England international will be proud to be linked with a move to the French capital. Speaking to Betfred, Saha also spoke about Manchester United’s pulsating 4-3 victory over Liverpool in their FA Cup quarter-final clash, why he believes Alejandro Garnacho is a superstar in the making and why Antony has unfinished business at Old Trafford. 

After their win against Liverpool on Sunday, do you believe Manchester United can perform like that for the rest of the season, or do you doubt whether they can maintain a consistent run of form?

“We saw the very best of Manchester United on Sunday in terms of spirit, belief and expression of qualities. They still had moments in the game where they allowed Liverpool to dominate, but they certainly showed that the quality is there and that they could damage Liverpool at any moment. 

“They’ve had to contend with a lot of injuries this season, but this team can cause even more damage when they’ve got all their players back from injury and play with more consistency. Manchester United have one of the best defenders in Lisandro Martínez and he’s been injured for most of the season and that’s also a big blow, so all these things haven’t helped. Having a set of players that are all focused, they can reproduce Sunday’s performance but more importantly, they need to show that they can do it on a consistent basis.”

Do you believe Manchester United now have an excellent chance of winning the FA Cup this season?

“Everybody connected with Manchester United hopes they can win it. The game on Sunday shows that they can beat anybody and considering that they have Coventry in the semi-final, then they do have a good possibility of making it to the final. However, you can’t underestimate anybody because that’s the beauty of the FA Cup. 

“It would be amazing to see another Manchester City versus Manchester United FA Cup final and hopefully my former club can get a win against them finally. It would be brilliant for the manager and the players. Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho are two youngsters that have shown great character and that’s excellent to see. Scott McTominay has also shown it too and that’s even more impressive when you consider that he’s not the first name on the team sheet.

“Manchester United have to take it game by game, show consistency and continue to display that spirit they showed against Liverpool. Bruno Fernandes showed great leadership by playing various positions on Sunday and even ended the game playing at centre-back. Harry Maguire was also very impressive when he came off the bench, so there’s a lot of positives for Manchester United to take from this game. They have to maintain this level for the remainder of the season, but that’s never easy.”

With reports continuing to circulate suggesting that Erik ten Hag’s future isn’t secure at Manchester United, do you believe it would be in your former club’s best interest to keep hold of the Dutchman? Do you believe Sunday’s result against LIverpool provides a huge boost to his job security?

“I’ve always believed that Erik ten Hag can be a brilliant manager for Manchester United, but that doesn’t mean that anybody’s position is secure. The players are not secure and the manager is not secure because everybody should be on their toes as they have to perform. That’s the nature of the game for any manager and player. The Liverpool victory is obviously very helpful when it comes to building confidence and the players showed that they believe in Erik ten Hag’s work, which is great to see. 

“The club needs to find stability and I’ve seen players playing with their hearts. I was really happy for Antony and Amad Diallo with their contributions and it’s now the manager’s job to make sure that the players reproduce those levels of performance on a regular basis.”

Antony is reportedly available for a transfer this summer, with Manchester United said to be prepared to sell their £86 million acquisition. Do you believe this would be the best move for both parties or do you believe his performance against Liverpool provides an indication that the Brazilian has unfinished business at Old Trafford?

“Of course he has unfinished business. Everybody can see that this guy has talent. On Sunday, he showed he also has a right-foot on him and all we ask of players in his position is for them to improve, to be unpredictable and to get goals and assists because that’s what the team needs and that’s what his job is. He just needs to be doing it on a more consistent basis. 

“Antony has faced a lot of criticism and has had periods out of the team this season, but you can see from his expressions and emotion that he wants to play and have the opportunity to prove people wrong. 

“Manchester United are a club in transition at the moment. They should be at the top but they’re not, so everybody has to improve, everybody has to prove a point and the fans need to believe in them.”

Are you excited by Mason Mount’s return from injury? Do you believe it’s a fresh start for him at Manchester United?

“I really hope it’s a fresh start for him because injuries are never easy to deal with because mentally and physically, you need to do a lot of hard work to get yourself ready and fit. He needs to prove again that he’s a top player and there’s hope for him because when you’re coming back into a team that’s feeling more confident, then it’s an easier environment to return to. 

“Whilst he was on the sidelines, Mason’s had the chance to observe what Manchester United have been missing in their game and pinpoint areas where he can contribute. That’s why you need to work hard mentally when you’re out injured because you need to find a way to benefit your teammates and your manager. 

“This is a big opportunity for him and he needs to do his best for the club because he’s got a lot of pressure on him to succeed at Manchester United. We’re all excited to see him back playing for the club because he’s got the potential to be a very important player for Manchester United and that’s what we’re all looking for.”

It’s been reported that Manchester United’s priority in the summer transfer window is a new centre-back and Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite is said to be their number one target. Do you believe Jarrad is currently good enough to start week in, week out for Manchester United?

“He will have to prove that he’s good enough because there’s a lot of talent in Manchester United’s squad and it’s a big step up coming from Everton. Jarrad has a lot of quality, he’s got the physique, he comes across as down to earth and he seems to have the right people around him, so there are a lot of indications that suggest he could be the right fit. 

“If Manchester United wants to buy a player, then that’s because they’re performing on a regular basis for their club, so I do believe Jarrad is the right target. You need to be prepared mentally to make the move to a club like Manchester United because it’s such a big step.”

Another centre-back linked with a move to Manchester United is 18-year-old Lille defender Leny Yoro. As someone who watches a lot of Ligue 1, do you believe a move to the Premier League is too soon for Yoro or do you believe he could have an immediate impact at Manchester United?

“I think he could have an immediate impact if he moved to the Premier League because he's a big boy, very confident technically and quick. He has all the ingredients that a modern day centre-back possesses. It’s incredible how trusted he is at his age and I’m sure he could adapt very quickly to the Premier League.

“Raphaël Varane moved to Real Madrid when he was 18 and Yoro is a similar type of defender that brings calmness to a defence. With the right manager and the right teammates, he can have an amazing career. Yoro’s a really exciting player and I’m sure that Manchester United won’t be the only club looking to sign him.”

For you, what position would you prioritise for Manchester United ahead of the summer transfer window and who would your ideal signing be?

“I do believe Manchester United should be looking to sign defenders that can ensure that the backline is very consistent. A few years ago, Liverpool played with a back four that effectively played every game and they ended up winning the league with that defence in 2020. When you find that level of consistency in your defence, you can operate in a very calm way and when you counter-attack, you can maintain the pressure on the opposition. 

“Manchester United also need a bit more unpredictability in the midfield where they can break the line very easily. However, it is better now than it was a few years ago because now we have Kobbie Mainoo, who’s very calm in possession and can recover the ball and there’s also Bruno Fernandes who can run all day. We still need more in that midfield and the backbone of the team needs to be stronger.” 

Do you believe Kobbie Mainoo has the potential to become one of the Premier League’s very best midfielders in the coming years? 

“Yes, I hope so. There are good signs that this could be the case, but he still needs to improve physically. On the ball, he's got a bit of a mix of Xavi [Hernández] and Sergio Busquets about him when he goes forward, but he doesn’t necessarily have the body of a Marouane Fellaini or Paul Pogba. 

“Kobbie has shown that he can play well consistently and people can play around him, so it’s very good to have a player of his talent and he’s capable of playing under pressure and providing the wingers with the opportunity to compete in one-on-one situations. Hopefully he can continue to improve over the next few years.”

Do you believe Mainoo is too good going forward to be deployed in a deep midfield role?

“I have seen that he can adapt. He is that kind of player where he has the qualities to remain very calm and composed. When he has the opportunity to recover the ball, he does. He’s maybe not as big physically as someone like Marouane Fellaini, but as I’ve said, he can recover those balls and he can use it really effectively and that is so precious. 

“In the last few years of his career, Paul Scholes was able to drop deeper into the midfield and go forward less because he was smart enough to be in the right areas at the right time. Kobbie has that same positional awareness. He’s very aware of where his teammates are and he doesn’t panic, so these are great qualities to have at his age. 

To provide this kind of reassurance to the manager is great and that’s why I think he’s playing regularly because he’s very composed and he’s improving game to game. I think Kobbie playing in defensive midfield when Casemiro isn’t there is possible as he’s capable of adapting.”

Do you believe Alejandro Garnacho is a superstar in the making? What improvements do you believe he needs to make to his game to go to the next level?

“Basically, I’m speechless because what he did on Sunday against Liverpool was absolutely amazing. The guy is a superstar in the making and I’m not exaggerating. Maybe I was a bit critical, as we all were, of Cristiano Ronaldo when he first came to Manchester United because he was making the wrong choices, sometimes missing a simple pass and that’s what Alejandro Garnacho was doing when he first came into the side, but he’s definitely improved since then. His touch has improved, his decision-making has improved and in the last few minutes of the game against Liverpool on Sunday, he provided the assist for Amad Diallo to score the winner. His stamina is amazing; the volume of his game is amazing and I don’t see anything that this boy can’t do.

“Cristiano Ronaldo used to surprise us game after game, so I can’t wait for Garnacho to play in a more confident side, where the manager has given him a bigger role to play and he can show off his personality and his confidence. 

“You can not only see his confidence growing, but his level of maturity is improving as well. He no longer has that naivety in his game and it’s an obligation for any youngster to come out and show their quality. He appears very calm, composed and when he’s creating, I’m very impressed. I was really surprised by his quality throughout the entire 120 minutes against Liverpool.; it was unbelievable.”

With reports in the British tabloids suggesting that Paris Saint-Germain are prepared to make a £75 million to sign Marcus Rashford this summer, can you seriously see this move happening?

“The only possibility of this happening is if Marcus is upset at Manchester United. Maybe Marcus believes he should have been defended better by the club but if he’s happy, then I can’t see this move happening because he’s a product of the club’s academy. 

“He will be flattered by the prospect of PSG because they’re a team that has the potential to win the Champions League and they’re amongst the favourites to win it this season. He will be proud to be linked with this move, but I don’t believe £75 million is anywhere close to what Manchester United would want for him. I don't think it even comes close to the value of the player when you compare it to other transfers we’ve seen. I don’t think that’s right at all. 

“For me personally, I don’t see this move happening unless there’s something that’s happened behind the scenes. There’s a suggestion that he’s not happy with some of the stick he’s received in recent times, but that comes with the nature of being a very, very talented player that plays for his country and Manchester United. He has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, so you’re going to be scrutinised and be asked to do more than other players. This is something that I don’t think he’s understood fully and that’s why he gets criticised more than other players. 

“Wayne Rooney received the same level of criticism and he’s the best goalscorer in Manchester United’s history, but he showed how strong he was mentally to deal with all the difficult situations he faced. That’s the expectation that Marcus has to remember.”

It’s been said that Sir Jim Ratcliffe has approved a bid of more than £100 million for 19-year-old Benfica midfielder, and Portugal international, João Neves. Do you believe that would be a really risky move by Manchester United considering the price-tag?

Yes, I think it’s a bit of a gamble. Kobbie Mainoo has emerged on the scene for Manchester United and  I’m not going to say they share the same kind of potential but in a way, they’re similar players. However, competition is needed in a squad, so the club may believe that João Neves can improve their midfield, but for me personally, I believe it’s a big gamble paying that much for a 19-year-old that plays in a different league.

“One move that everybody expected last summer was Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona and if they had spent £100 million on him, you would know that you were signing a player that would provide you with a guarantee. You know that he’s the type of player that would have come in, changed the midfield and changed the way they play. That’s the type of gamble I’d prefer to do. Manchester United have done this in the past and if he matches the personality of the club, then yes that’s fine but it’s still a gamble, so I’m not so sure that this is a move they should pursue for that price.”

INEOS have also reportedly approved a move for Crystal Palace winger Michael Olise. Would you be concerned by Michael’s injury record from a prospective buyer’s perspective?

“He has been very unlucky this year with injuries, but it happens, especially when you’re quick, strong and have that kind of ability. Hamstring Injuries are one of the most common injuries for quick players. That’s something he will work on and it will disappear, it happens. 

“It’s unfortunate because I think he had another injury or setback not long ago, but it happens sometimes when the club or the manager is really excited to get you back and they perhaps bring you back before you’re fully ready and the injury can occur again. These things happen, but I’m not concerned because he’s such a good, confident and stable player. He’s an amazing talent."

 

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