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Mason Greenwood compared to Ryan Giggs after 17 year-old sparkles for Manchester United against Inter Milan

James Ducker
Mason Greenwood celebrates scoring against Inter Milan - Getty Images AsiaPac

Mason Greenwood will get the Ryan Giggs treatment at Manchester United, according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Every aspect of Giggs’s development was carefully managed by Sir Alex Ferguson during the former Wales winger’s emergence as one of the most exciting talents United had produced.

Ferguson shielded Giggs from media intrusion and kept a careful watch on him both on and off the field and Solskjaer intends to keep a close eye on Greenwood.

The 17-year-old striker took full advantage of Romelu Lukaku’s continued absence to score United’s only goal in their impressive 1-0 win over Inter Milan in Singapore on Saturday, three days after claiming his first senior goal in the 4-0 victory over Leeds United in Perth. Cutting inside Joao Mario with his right, Greenwood rifled a sublime left-foot finish into the far corner.

Solskjaer has ruled out the prospect of Greenwood leaving on loan before the close of the transfer window on Aug 8 and has said the youngster has every chance of starting United’s opening Premier League game against Chelsea at Old Trafford three days later.

Mason Greenwood is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring Credit: getty images

“Mason's never been on my mind to send out on loan, he's one that we have to keep at our place, keep him playing when we feel it's good for him and at the moment he's flying,” the United manager said.

“He reminds me a little bit of the Giggsy story, you can’t really send him on loan and for me he's ready to be in this squad.

“The kid's only 17 and he's learning every day, training with these boys, he's been with us the last few months and he’s grown in confidence, he’s grown in stature.

“I said before when you've got players who perform it’s difficult to keep them out. But we’ve got to keep our feet on the ground with him, know that he's only 17 and there will be ups and downs but he’s enjoying his football.”

United have rejected a £54 million bid from Inter for Lukaku, who chatted with staff from the Italian club after the game, which he missed with a reputed ankle injury. 

Solskjaer suggested for the first time on Saturday that United are able to play “a different way” without Lukaku but the manager risks being stuck with the Belgium striker unless Inter find a way of getting closer to his £90m valuation. The Italian club need to offload Mauro Icardi, who is interesting Juventus, to free up cash. 

Romelu Lukaku chats with Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte Credit: epa

“If you’re a player and don’t manage to train for a week - and he’s missed three games now - I think he’ll be concerned,” Solskjaer said. “He’s working to get back on the pitch and let’s see how long that takes. It’s his ankle.

“I think we have done really well without Romelu but we all know he’s one of the top, top strikers in the world. We’ve played a different way maybe with Anthony [Martial], Marcus [Rashford], Mason, so you adapt to the players who are available.”

Antonio Conte, the Inter coach, remains hopeful an agreement can be reached for Lukaku. “I like him because I consider him a player who could improve our team but on one side it is my hope, my will, on my other side we will see what we find with the club,” Conte said.

United pressed with an intensity and urgency against Inter that has not been seen before in recent years, with Greenwood’s fellow academy graduates, Tahith Chong, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard, all impressing. Axel Tuanzebe also performed well in defence and is giving Solskjaer food for thought as he weighs up whether to allow the defender to go back on loan to Aston Villa or have him fight for a first team place at United.

All seven of United’s goals on the tour have been scored or assisted by players who have come through the club’s academy.

Axel Tuanzebe battles for the ball with Inter's Ivan Perisic Credit: epa

“He (Tuanzebe) has got a future at Man United, yes of course he has,” Solskjaer said. “This was a test for him playing against difficult opposition. We know he can play at that level, that’s why he didn’t play against Leeds, and he’s shown he’s very capable of playing at this level. Axel is going to be the future of this club.

“The mindset was really good, we were on the front foot pressing when we could - high energy, intensity. With all the pressing we did in the first half, maybe we lacked a bit of quality in the last third, the last pass, the last finish, but when the second XI came on they even upped the level and it was great to see. We could have had two or three more goals.

“We’re getting better and better, definitely. We’ve had three weeks now in pre-season working on the intensity and pressing in training.

“We’ve got players who like to press on the front foot. I don’t know how many times Jesse won the ball for us but he’s one of the best ones in that pressing football and Marcus is also very good at it and you saw Anthony working hard to win a few balls for us as well so that’s the way we hope to continue.”

The one disappointment for Solskjaer was to see Ashley Young booed by United fans inside the ground when his name was read out before kick-off and then when he touched the ball during the game. The jeers eventually receded, with Greenwood scoring after Young’s free-kick was saved, but Solskjaer said he would talk to the player and urged United supporters to get behind all of the team.

“I think Ashley is a top professional, he always gives absolutely everything and his delivery today ended up with a goal,” Solskjaer said.

“We want our fans to support our players and Ash has been a very loyal servant to this club for many years and he will keep on performing when he plays. No I’ve not spoken to him, they've had to do running after the game, but I’ll have a chat with him yeah.”