Marcus Rashford scored twice and was very much the star of the show but there was one man I thought stood out just as much as the lad in the thrilling game betwixt Manchester United and Arsenal. The man was the first signing from the post-Ferguson era. The man is Guillermo Varela.
Michael Carrick, skipper for the day, echoed my thoughts completely when he said in his post-game interview that Rashford had an outstanding game but that the media could not ignore the talent and performance of the emerging Varela.
But for sure Marcus Rashford’s performance shows the strength of Man United academy, with the likes of Borthwick-Jackson and Donald Love have all played their part in the first team at some point this season.
When Varela tugged down Alexis Sanchez after a surge of pace from the Chilean and received a yellow card for his cynicallism I feared the worst. It became inevitable that Arsenal would shift the ball out to Sanchez in the knowledge that Varela had to backtrack on his heels and open up more to Arsenal or that Varela would topple Sanchez for a second yellow.
Arsenal tried their very best, but time and time again Varela had the answer and for me and most, he was sensational.
And we’re talking about a complete rookie. This was only his second start for United but you wouldn’t be able to tell. If you had never seen Varela, Matteo Darmian or Antonio Valencia play before you would assume that Varela is the number one.
Unlike Rashford, Fosu-Mensah and Weir (the three debutants) whom will fall back behind Martial, Shaw and Schweinsteiger when they return, I genuinely believe that Valencia isn’t defensively-mindful and Matteo Darmian has been too stop-start to even compete with Varela. Every time and at every level I have seen Varela he has been magnificent.
I truly don’t think Varela has seen his share of the praise this last week. He has worked hard behind the scenes, too, training with the seniors shortly after the season’s beginning and even doing a stint on loan at Madrid alongside Javier Hernandez where he didn’t compete with the senior side but bolstered the B-Team on thirty-three occasions.
The kid is good. Uruguayans are even calling for his national team debut. And rightly so. He has done his nigh-compulsory stints in the youth sides making twenty-five appearances below the seniors. He’s ready.
And with academy graduates up and down the pitch at Old Trafford really shining the one thing that you really can’t knock him for down the years is Van Gaal’s development of youth talent. Muller. Xavi. Iniesta. Rashford?