Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is well in form, scoring five goals in his first five games for Manchester United. However, he spoke about Marcus Rashford in the media after scoring in United’s 2-1 loss to Manchester City. Ibrahimovic, presumably at the club to lift the morale and score goals, also now seems to be around to help Rashford become a world class footballer, and Ibrahimovic believes he can do exactly that.
Ibrahimovic’s first point was that Rashford is still only 18, and he should not rush to try and fulfill his potential so early. He said that, with everyone talking about his talent and potential, it is easy to get caught up and forget he is so young. Zlatan said that the key for everyone at the club to continue along with the vision that Rashford is to become a world-class footballer and not to be one before he is capable of it.
“First of all, he’s 18, he’s still young. He has a lot of time. I think the way you have to approach a player like that, where everyone is talking about the talent and what he’s able to do and what kind of potential he has, is to remember he still has a lot of time. It’s not like he needs to take over the world today, the club knows that, the coach knows that and the team knows that.”
Ibrahimovic’s words are more than sensible considering the number of English players who do not reach their potential because they are relied on as world class players before they reach that level. The prime examples of this would be the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli at Euro 2016. Eric Dier, who was not expected to be a top class player for England, ended up being their best player.
Eventually, though, the Swede went on to say that everyone at the club knew what the world is seeing- that Rashford is an incredibly talented footballer, reiterating that too much pressure on the Englishman could have a negative effect on him. He also stated his intention to help Rashford make progress whenever he can, but he believes the young striker’s quality is such that he does not need too much help to be successful.
“We know his quality and what he’s able to do. What the world is seeing now, we already know because we see it every day. There is no need to rush to push him and put him in the heat zone and put a lot of pressure on him because that can have the opposite effect. Time by time, he will take over everything. It’s about having patience. I’ll help him every day, him and all the others, in any way I can. I’m happy it gives an effect but, even if I was not here, they would still do good.”
Rashford’s potential has been obvious since he was prematurely thrown into the deep end by Louis van Gaal. With all of United’s senior and U21 strikers injured, Rashford stepped in up top and earned his place in the Starting XI, scoring eight goals and providing two assists in just 16 appearances, in what was believed to be a stagnant attacking United side. Goals aren’t even the best aspect of his game, which is his movement- the ability to use running into channels with pace to deceive defenders, surprise them and create opportunities for others. He’s already scoring at a rate that would see him reach 20 in a season, but in a better attacking unit and progress, people believe he could go on to score as much as often as every match.
Ibrahimovic is a great player to have around in helping Rashford reach his potential, and overall, and with the tutelage of the Swede, Mourinho, and all the United academy executives who contributed greatly in making him the player he is today, nothing should hold him back from becoming the world class player we all know he can be very soon.