Barcelona manager Xavi on Erik ten Hag’s job at Manchester United: “They are excited again, the club, the fanbase and also the way they play does a lot. He changes things offensively, defensively, everyone’s working very well, so it’s a tough rival for us and he’s a very interesting coach”
Image: Marcus Rashford (right) is Manchester United’s top scorer this season with 21 goals
Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has joined Erik ten Hag in labelling Marcus Rashford “one of Europe’s most dangerous players” given the forward’s stunning recent form.
In 15 appearances for his club since the World Cup, United forward Marcus Rashford has scored 13 goals, including eight in his last nine Premier League matches.
No-one in Europe’s top-five leagues has matched his goal tally in that time, with the academy graduate United’s biggest danger man only months after his career looked on the rocks at Old Trafford.
Xavi agreed with Ten Hag’s assessment that the England striker has become one of Europe’s most dangerous players, and believes he will prove their most potent opponent at the Nou Camp.
Ahead of his side’s Europa League clash against Unitred, Xavi said: “In the transition he is very, very dangerous so, yes, we need to take care of all of them but especially Rashford.
“He’s one of the most dangerous players now in Europe, yeah. He’s very fast, he has a very good at dribbling in one-versus-one.”
Xavi praised “great coach” Ten Hag for the rebuilding job he has done in his short time at Old Trafford so far, after a chaotic season leading into his appointment.
United have picked up 46 Premier League points in the Dutchman’s first year in charge, only 12 less than they managed in the whole of 2021/22 with 15 games left to go, and travel to the Nou Camp after qualifying as runners-up from their Europa League group before Christmas.
Ten Hag is the latest of five permanent managers tasked with rebuilding the club to the levels it reached under Sir Alex Ferguson since his retirement almost a decade ago.
Though United have twice finished second in the Premier League since then, and won the Europa League in 2017 under Jose Mourinho, Xavi believes Ten Hag is the man to finally reverse United’s poor spell given what he has shown at the club since his appointment last summer.
“In my mind I believe that somehow (reversing) the situation of United was no easy task and he’s accomplishing it,” he said.
“They are excited again, the club, the fanbase and also the way they play does a lot. He changes things offensively, defensively, everyone’s working very well, so it’s a tough rival for us and he’s a very interesting coach.
“In my mind, he does great things – you know, variants of the line of three, the side players go inside, a lot of people go into the offence.
“He’s an offensive coach, I believe, and he proves that in most of his games. I believe he’s a reference for offensive coaches who like this kind of football.”
Thursday’s game will present the first meeting between United and summer target Frenkie De Jong, with the club’s protracted interest in the Netherlands midfielder ultimately ending in defeat.
Sky Sports News reported at the time that De Jong wanted to stay in Spain and Xavi confirmed the 25-year-old’s reluctance to leave ahead of Thursday’s meeting.
“He was really clear to me that he wanted to stay with us, so there was no doubt,” he said.
“He’s our player. I’m really happy and satisfied with his performance, his leadership. He’s in a very good moment, like all the team.
“Now Frenkie, I think, is enjoying on the pitch and this is the most important thing.”