Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes the “sky’s the limit” for Mason Greenwood as the Manchester United teenager’s inexorable rise continues.
Having long been spoken about as one of the most exciting players coming through the club’s fabled academy, the 18-year-old has so far lived up to the hype.
Greenwood has enjoyed a superb breakthrough season at United, scoring 13 goals in 40 appearances across all competitions – a statistic made all the more impressive by the fact that only involved 18 starts.
The teenager appears to have gone up another level since the coronavirus suspension, with the forward scoring one and providing another in Tuesday’s impressive 3-0 win at Brighton.
“We have done well over the course of the season giving him more and more exposure, more and more game time,” United boss Solskjaer said.
“You know, it’s not easy being a young boy. He could still play in this season’s FA Youth Cup team, so he’s a young boy that we have to look after.
“But he’s performing from the bench or when he starts and he’s developed fantastically this season.
“Only the sky’s the limit. It’s up to him. He knows what he should do, can do and must do to keep on playing, but that’ll be between us.”
Greenwood is certainly repaying the faith shown in him by Solskjaer, who raised eyebrows when allowing both Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to join Inter Milan at the start of the season.
Asked how the teenager’s development compares to his own during his playing days, former United striker Solskjaer said: “Mason is way ahead of what I was when I was 18, 19, that’s for sure.
“He’s got a knack of scoring goals. I don’t really want to say anything different because it’s natural for him and it was what I felt I could do well as well.
“He’s a brilliant boy to work with. He keeps on learning, keeps on making better and better decisions.”
Solskjaer is in the process of building an exciting, young side at Old Trafford and United had been interested in adding talented Birmingham teenager Jude Bellingham to the mix.
The 17-year-old was given a tour of the training ground and even met Sir Alex Ferguson, but the midfielder now appears to be on the verge of joining Borussia Dortmund.
Asked if it was frustrating to miss out on Bellingham, Solskjaer said: “Well, I think there’s been loads of speculation and linked us to every single talented player from the age of 15 to 25, really.
“I can’t comment on every single player that’s been linked with us so, no, I can’t really comment.”
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Solskjaer’s immediate focus is on maintaining their impressive 15-match unbeaten run and Champions League charge when embattled Bournemouth arrive at Old Trafford on Saturday.
“I’ve got to wait and see (how the squad looks) because there’s a couple that got some knocks, bruises, so if there are a couple of changes don’t be surprised just because of fitness,” the Norwegian said.
“But there’s also so many games, so I’ve got to look after them, look after the players.
“It would be nice to play a team that performed so well against Sheffield United at home last time and played so well against Brighton, but let’s wait and see how everyone is after training today. I’ve not seen them this morning.
“I’ve got many, many reasons to play the same team, but I’ve also got a few reasons to rotate one or two that have played so well earlier in the season.”
Youngster Ethan Laird has been called into United’s training squad ahead of the Bournemouth match, with fellow defenders Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe sidelined for the foreseeable future.
“Phil and Axel will still be out for a little while,” Solskjaer added.
“It’ll be a few weeks before Phil can start training and Axel, we won’t probably see until September. Ethan is going to join the training group now.”