'Rashford one of the best starlets I have launched' – Van Gaal compares striker to Muller and Iniesta

The 64-year-old is convinced of his protege's quality and has gone so far as to rank the striker amongst the top talents he has worked with, though he insists he can still improve

Louis van Gaal has compared Manchester United sensation Marcus Rashford to the best players he has launched into stardom, saying the 18-year-old is on par with the likes of Thomas Muller and Andres Iniesta.

The current Red Devils boss has brought through some of the most promising names at clubs he has led including Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, with many going on to achieve worldwide recognition.

Van Gaal's latest discovery proved to be Rashford, who scored a double on his United debut after starting as an emergency substitute for Anthony Martial in a key Europa League round of 32 clash against Midtjylland.

The teenager has since gone on to add five more goals to his club tally in a remarkable first season at Old Trafford, and his manager is convinced his match-winning displays are further proof of his star quality.

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"I can give a lot of other examples of the same thing. Muller at Bayern, Xavi and Iniesta and Barcelona," Van Gaal told reporters ahead of his club's FA Cup semi-final tie with Everton. 

"Age is not the issue, quality is more important. A good manager should always try to have a mix of young and experienced players in his selection.

"I believe in young players, and at all my clubs I have given them a chance, even when I started out at AZ Alkmaar. Then I went to Ajax and [Patrick] Kluivert, 18 years old, gave the same sort of performances as we are seeing from Rashford.

Nevertheless, Van Gaal insisted his protege is capable of improving further, adding:  "He is not yet ready and he knows that; he can still learn a lot.

"It is always a risk when you promote young players to the first team because it is such a step up. As a manager you always need guts to put youngsters in the squad.

"Of course, the Manchester United scouts and academy coaches deserve a lot of credit for finding these boys and preparing them.

"Compared to the hours they put in my part is only a little one. But that part is still very important because you need the guts to do it.”