Gradi, who managed Crewe for over 25 years, is now in charge of their academy affairs and oversaw the emergence of Powell.
Having handed Powell his first team debut as a 16 year old, Gradi once complained that the teenager was hard to manage but Powell appears to have matured and Gradi feels that he could have a Cantona-esque impact at Old Trafford.
Speaking on Talksport Radio, Gradi was full of praise for Powell:
“Nick has got everything going for him.
“He’s come up with the goods. He’s won games for us with individual goals.
“He’s a real match winner. It’s like having Wayne Rooney or Eric Cantona in the team. They can win games through their own ability, not just great team play. He can do it on his own or he can combine with the team. He’s got everything.”
Gradi also revealed that Sir Alex used Cristiano Ronaldo as an example to ensure Powell signed:
“Nick had some misgivings about whether he should take such a big step but Alex spoke to him about Cristiano Ronaldo going there in a similar situation. He had to prove himself but he earned his place and that’s the same challenge that Alex gave to Nick.”