Xavi labels Rashford as 'one of most dangerous players in Europe' ahead of crunch Europa League clash

By Sports Desk February 15, 2023

Xavi warned Barcelona they must deal with "one of the most dangerous players in Europe" in Marcus Rashford when they host Manchester United on Thursday.

The two European heavyweights will face off in the Europa League at Camp Nou in the first leg as the pair bid for a place in the last 16.

Runaway LaLiga leaders Barca have been in fine form, winning 11 straight games in all competitions since the start of 2023 ahead of the high-profile clash in UEFA's secondary club competition.

But the Blaugrana will have to deal with the in-form Rashford, who has scored 13 times in 15 games since the World Cup, and Xavi acknowledged the danger the England international will pose.

"In the transition he is very, very dangerous, so we need to take care of all of them but especially Rashford," the Barca coach said on Wednesday at his pre-match press conference.

"He's one of the most dangerous players now in Europe."

While Barca will be tasked with coping against the resurgent Rashford, United will get a taste of what could have had when they face Frenkie de Jong.

Erik ten Hag's side tried and failed to sign the Netherlands international in the transfer window ahead of the 2022-23 season, with the Dutchman subsequently emerging as a key cog in Xavi's midfield.

"Frenkie is an incredible player and for every club in the whole world he will strengthen the squad because he has a unique quality," said Ten Hag, who managed De Jong during his time as Ajax coach.

"If you can get him in the squad your team will be stronger. In Spain, he became even better.

"He's a fantastic player, plays out from the back, he always has time and it was a pleasure to work with him."

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    The Gunners’ plight was arguably worse as they were also in Europe on Wednesday night but had to travel back from Germany on Thursday following their Champions League exit to Bayern Munich.

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    “I thought it was an incredible performance, it exceeded my expectation of what we were able to produce today,” he said.

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    The man in the opposite dugout should provide a timely reminder to Ten Hag that fortunes in football can change in an instant.

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