New Manchester United signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic is keen to mentor Marcus Rashford and help the youngster get even better.
18-year-old Marcus Rashford introduced himself to the world in February 2016 during Manchester United’s game against Danish giants Midtjylland. Due to a pre-match niggle picked up by striker Anthony Martial, Rashford was named in the starting eleven due to the lack of any senior forwards to replace the injured Frenchman. Within minutes, Rashford’s impact was evident. He looked energized, motivated, and had a desire to turn things around for the Red Devils.
It took him time, but just few minutes after the hour mark, the English striker etched his name into United folklore with a composed finish off an exquisite pass from Juan Mata. Rashford added another 12 minutes later, and gave the Old Trafford faithful a home-town hero to look up to. His popularity further escalated after he netted another brace against Arsenal, four days after his fantastic European debut.
Ever since, the young United striker has been touted as one of the next big things in football. He was included in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 squad, and despite making just one appearance off the bench for the Three Lions, he showed a tremendous amount of promise.
Due to Louis van Gaal’s highly unpopular stint as Manchester United manager, he was shown the door by club CEO Ed Woodward, and former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho was appointed as the man to replace the Dutchman. The Portuguese quickly went about his business at the club and brought in one of the world’s best out-and-out strikers in Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Old Trafford. Having tasted success everywhere he went, the Swedish attacker was brought into to turn the fortunes around, of what looked like a below-par United side.
Much like Rashford, it took him little to no time to make his impact felt, as he scored a thunderous overhead scissor-kick goal only 4 minutes into his club debut. Despite it being a friendly game, Ibrahimovic proved to his critics that he still possesses that immaculate skill he did when he was at his pinnacle. The Swedish striker also scored the winning goal in his professional debut for United in a 2-1 victory over Leicester City for the Community Shield.
At 34, Zlatan has definitely not been brought in as an option for the future of United. If anything, his primary role would be to remove the club out of its slumber and bring back the glory days to Old Trafford. His impact in the dressing room too would be paramount as he brings a certain winning mentality wherever he goes. In his first interview after joining, he spoke about how he could have a positive impact on the youngsters at the club, due to his varied experience of playing under intense conditions. One youngster who could benefit from the Swede’s mentorship is Marcus Rashford.
At just 19 years old, there is still a lot that is to be learned by the young striker before he is on the path to greatness. Zlatan may be the ideal man to mentor him and help him make the strides needed to elevate his game to the next level. Much like Rashford, Ibrahimovic burst onto the scene while he was 18 years of age. Despite being a part of Malmo’s youth side since 1996, it took the attacker a total of three years to break into the squad’s first team.
Recently, in an interview with Geoff Shreves of Sky Sports, Ibrahimovic spoke positively about the English striker and also stated that he could do a great deal in helping Rashford progress. He said:
“I can do a lot for the young players. I have been at the top for 10-15 years, I have played for clubs that players could only dream about and I have won with every club I have been at. I have played with big champions, big quality, top players, this is something I have brought with me and I give to the younger players.
“This ability, the focus, what they need to do, the demands of a player. I see Rashford as a huge talent, I have been here two weeks and I also saw him last season. I get to see him live every day now and he is the future of England. He just needs to keep working hard, keep focusing and everything will come by itself.
“I got help from many players. I remember I went to Juventus where all the big stars were, I saw the way they were behaving, training, how professional they were, how they were eating. You study all the small details and start to do the same. Then you become one of them.”
Rashford too, spoke extremely highly about the influence of the Swedish star and also of captain Wayne Rooney. In an interview with MUTV, he explained:
“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.
“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.”
Manchester United kickstart their Premier League campaign on the 14th of August when they take on Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium. Ibrahimovic is likely to to lead the line for the Red Devils on Sunday. Rashford will probably be content with a cameo and is expected to come on in the second half once the game is drawing to its closure.