On the eve of his first full season as a senior United player, Marcus Rashford has been full of praise for his fellow strikers, hailing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney as the perfect mentors for the young players in the squad.
After a whirlwind few months that turned Rashford from a youth player into a first team star and earned him a place in England’s Euro 2016 squad, the teenager is now ready to establish himself as a Manchester United regular.
After the arrival of Jose Mourinho as manager and the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, many speculated that Rashford’s meteoric rise would be halted by the Swede’s superstar status and the almost certainty that he would lead the line for the new manager. Mourinho has been quick to dispel these claims, describing Ibrahimovic as a ‘gift’ for any young player, and Rashford was certainly in agreement when he spoke with MUTV.
“It’s amazing to have both of them to learn from. You’ve also got someone like Michael [Carrick] too. You pick up bits from each of their games and put them into your own.”
It’s not just Ibrahimovic though. Rashford also highlighted the influence of Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick and it is clear to see the blend of youth and experience in this United squad is of paramount importance.
“They’ve won so many trophies. I think Zlatan’s won 30 trophies and Wayne and Michael are two of the most decorated players in football so there is a lot to learn from them. And not only for me, but the other young players who are coming through.
“Everything that we’re going through and will go through in the next few years, they’ve been there and done it and can tell us all about it. So it’s a real benefit for us to have them.”
Ibrahimovic is not the only new signing at Old Trafford of course. United have also brought in Eric Bailly and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to strengthen a squad that severely underperformed last season. While most of their early business had been swift and fairly impressive, all eyes have now turned to the marquee signing at United this summer; former academy graduate Paul Pogba.
The world record transfer has captured the imagination of every single Manchester United supporter and Rashford is no different. As a local boy Rashford is as much a fan as he is a player and he is delighted to have Pogba back at the club.
“He’s a midfielder that can do everything. He can go forward, he can sit, he can score goals and create goals and he can defend – he’s an all-round player that would benefit any team. We’re just lucky to have him.
“Since all the new players have come in, the team spirit has just gone up and up and up.
“Everyone is ready for the new season. We’ve all got the same mentality, the same mindset, the same goals – we all want to win. It’s exciting for everyone.”
Listening to Rashford speak you can feel the confidence exuding from the young man. He has not been fazed at any step along the way, despite his spectacular emergence into the public eye back in February. Last season he was an unknown quantity – a youth player. He wore no.39 on his back and he was every bit the raw and untested talent you would associate with an 18-year-old. This season he will wear #19 and will be given the added responsibility to match it. United may have spent a fortune in the transfer market this summer, but they might find their most exciting prospect was under their noses the entire time.