Why Man Utd, Borussia Dortmund are scouting Marcel Sabitzer
If Marcel Sabitzer was flattered by rumours of Manchester United watching him before Christmas, with David Moyes now in charge, the Rapid Wien winger can be certain he's on their radar.
Moyes is a big fan of Austrian football and has taken his former Everton squad to train in the Alps for the past two preseasons.
Sabitzer will be well known to Moyes and his chief scout Robbie Cooke, who is to be confirmed at United in the coming days. The midfielder, capped by Austria last year as an 18 year-old, was linked with United and Borussia Dortmund ahead of leaving Admira Wacker in January for Rapid.
Schalke made a firm move for the 19 year-old winger, but guided by his father, Herfried Sabitzer, the former Austria international striker, Marcel decided at this stage in his career, developing at home in Vienna and being guaranteed a regular first team place was the best option.
"We had agreed something with Schalke," recalls Herfried. "But as a club, for their size, it came too soon for us.
"It's important for Marcel, at his age, to be playing regularly. Moving there was a gamble which could've seen him left in the third team."
Sabitzer is close to his father and agrees the Schalke move would've come too soon.
"There are two ways to think about it. I just think that the step would have been too great. Here (at Rapid) I can develop myself properly and regularly play with an Austrian giant. And I believe that I can succeed at Rapid."
Like Herfried, Marcel is a pure attacking talent. His ability to bustle past opponents with a dip of his shoulder and acceleration is what attracted United and BVB last season - both teams which emphasise the use of wingers.
"We are aware of the dangers of promoting such a young player," Austria coach Marcel Koller said at the time of his call up. "Sabitzer has played a good second half of the season.
"He has to be tested, but even if we send him back to the U21s it's important that we manage him and help him improve."
Sabitzer admits the hype did take its toll last season.
"I have certainly suffered, I've been growing up in public. Everyone has an opinion.
"I tried my best at Admira, though admit it was difficult in autumn."
Dad, Herfried, was proud of Marcel's call-up at the time and when he discusses the Rapid winger's strengths, the comparisons with Beckham are understandable.
"His strengths are clearly his technique, his speed and dribbling. I believe that he is on a good path. At 18, he is still a growing player and therefore he also has some weaknesses," says Herfried.
"For example, his heading ability. But we need not talk now about his weaknesses. The fact is that Marcel has made very good steps in his career. It must be said that he owes this to Admira."
Sabitzer is happy in Vienna and settled at Rapid, but confesses he sees himself playing in one Europe's top leagues in the near future. The midfielder admits he has ambitions of playing in the Bundesliga, though with United and now Juventus expressing interest, anything is possible.
"In the future, of course I would like to move abroad, but that's still too far away.
"I certainly hope that I can make the next step. I see myself in a top European league and playing there regularly."