Marcus Rashford set the world alight when he began playing for the Manchester United first team last season, however, so far, this campaign he has been forced to take a back seat due to the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimović.
Ibrahimović has arguably been Jose Mourinho’s main man this season, leading the line for all the big games whenever he’s been fit and eligible to play. This has led to Rashford being deployed on the left-wing to get game time, but the young Englishman knows that he wants to lead the line for United long-term, whether that be as part of a duo or by himself:
“Playing as a lone striker is a bit different because you are on your own and obviously, it depends on what centre-halves you are up against and what their skills and their characteristics are.”
Although Ibrahimović is currently limiting the amount of game time that Rashford receives up front, he is determined to learn for the Swede and add aspects to his own game in the time that he gets to spend with Ibrahimović.
“But Zlatan has been a big help. He has spoken to us a lot about things he has come up against in the past and you have to listen because he has been there, he has done it and he has won a lot of trophies and that is what we all want to do. It is important we listen and take his advice on board. For instance, it is not just about his strength. He puts his body in the right areas and these are things you pick up on. It is about trying to put those things into your own game.”
Rashford is also impressed with Ibrahimović’s physique and the way that he has looked after his body to maintain peak physical conditioning despite his age. Ibrahimović is now 35 years old but looks in better condition than most of the current United squad despite being one of the most senior players at the club.
“He has looked after his body well since he was a young professional. That is why he can still play at this age now. It is a small thing and one that a lot of people do not look at but for him to be playing and still competing at that age is amazing.”
It is clear that Rashford has a long-term future at United, and reduced playing time could actually benefit him long-term. If United continued to rely on Rashford week in and week out, then the chances are that the starlet would eventually get burnt out and potentially suffer injuries which could then hamper him further down the line if he was to be rushed back from these injuries. Rashford can learn from Ibrahimović this year, and potentially even next year. The wealth of knowledge that Rashford can learn from Ibrahimović will undoubtedly stand him in good stead for the future, and if he can replicate the success that Ibrahimović has had throughout his career then he will go down as one of the all-time greats.