‘You have to be world-class to play for Man United.’
Michael Owen and Rio Ferdinand gave contrasting views on Anthony Elanga following his first Champions League goal in Manchester United’s 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night.
The 19-year-old came off the bench for the Red Devils to slot his shot past Jan Oblak at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. He converted a through ball by Bruno Fernandes in the 80th minute.
The Swedish international has scored three times in 14 appearances for the Red Devils under interim manager Ralf Rangnick, and looks to have a bright future at the club.
Anthony Elanga with a MASSIVE goal for Man Utd!
So many stars struggling all evening and an academy graduate comes off the bench to bag the goal ?
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 23, 2022
Michael Owen’s take on Anthony Elanga.
However, Owen went down the gears when discussing Elanga’s potential. The former England international suggested the youngster doesn’t have what it takes to be a Man United great or be a world-class player, despite his decisive impact in Madrid.
“He’s made a difference when he’s come on,” Owen said about Elanga on BT Sport.
“If I saw him playing for any other team I’d say, ‘yeah, this kid’s got something and he’s going to be a good player.’
“But when I see them coming through Manchester United they have to be special, special. They have to be world-class.”
“He’s a very, very good player, but if I’m being brutally honest, if you’re asking me what I think of him, I think he’ll have a fantastic career, but he’ll do very, very well to be a Ryan Giggs or a Wayne Rooney.”
“If you’ve not got that absolute freakish talent, you’re not really going to be the right… We’ve just spoken about Marcus Rashford – he’s a phenomenal player – he’s got to find another level.
“Because at the minute they’re not playing like they’re going to win the Champions League or the league.”
Rio Ferdinand believes Elanga is ‘fearless.’
Ferdinand was also on BT Sport, but didn’t agree with his former Man United colleague, insisting Elanga has brought a ‘fearlessness’ that is lacking in the team at the moment.
The former defender believes that interim managaer Ralf Rangnick needs hard-working players over raw talent, and Elanga has been displaying both of these qualities.
“What he [Elanga] brings is an energy, a desire, fearlessness,” Ferdinand said.
“There’s not enough in this Man United team at times.”
“I think to expect to have a young player come through like a Rooney or a Ryan Giggs is blue-sky thinking, that’s like generational-type stuff.
“I think Man United aren’t in that place now. They need sound characters, sound people, honest, hard-working players who you can build around.”
The second-leg of the tie is at Old Trafford on March 15, with the score level at 1-1.