The arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Manchester United has the potential to do wonderful things for Marcus Rashford’s career.
Whereas Rashford’s football dreams are just taking off, Ibrahimovic, 34, has been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. He was a wealth of knowledge which he can pass on to the 18-year-old striker.
However, it might be a while before we see the impact Ibrahimovic has on Rashford. Mainly because the Swede has taken the teenager’s spot in United’s starting line-up.
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The England U21 international, who burst onto the scene in February with a brace against FC Midtjylland, hasn’t played a minute of Premier League football this season and was restricted to 20 minutes in the Community Shield.
As a result, Rashford finds himself in the England U21 squad as opposed to the senior team. The brakes have well and truly been slammed.
Mourinho: Marcus will play a lot
But those who believe Jose Mourinho is killing the potential of England’s hottest talent will be pleased to hear the United coach call Rashford “amazing”, and admit that he does have a role to play this season.
“Marcus will play a lot,” the Portuguese told reporters, per the Manchester Evening News.
“But I cannot choose competitions, I cannot say Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) doesn’t play one single Europa League game. I cannot say Marcus doesn’t play in the Premier League.
“We didn’t buy more strikers in the summer. Zlatan is playing and Marcus is striker number two at the moment. For an 18 year old boy, he is amazing.”
Rashford was taken to Euro 2016 after scoring on his international debut. But a lack of playing time has seen his demoted to Gareth Southgate’s U21 team, which takes on Norway on September 6.
Is Mourinho concerned that Rashford is no longer playing with the big boys? Not one bit.
“I prefer he is not selected for the national team, because to be on the bench and play one minute, I prefer him to play for the Under 21s and play 90 or 80 minutes and contribute to his development,” the former Chelsea boss added.
Louis van Gaal turned to Rashford pretty much as a last resort last season. It turned out to be one of the Dutchman’s best decisions during his two-year stay at Old Trafford but United’s dearth of strikers last term isn’t lost on Mourinho.
“There were not other players ready to play,” he admitted.