Manchester United youngster Marcus Rashford will “take over everything”, team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic has predicted.
Rashford made a lively impact as a substitute in his side’s 2-1 home defeat to Manchester City on Saturday and was only denied an equaliser in the second half when his low shot deflected in off Ibrahimovic, who was offside.
The 18-year-old has enjoyed a stunning 2016 since scoring twice on his debut against FC Midtjylland, netting five goals in just four Premier League starts last season – including the winner in the Manchester derby in March – before a debut strike for England earned him a place at Euro 2016.
Rashford has struggled for a starting spot under Jose Mourinho since the arrival of Ibrahimovic, but he scored a stoppage-time winner against Hull City last month before linking up with the England Under-21 side, for whom he hit a hat-trick in their 6-1 thrashing of Norway.
And Ibrahimovic has backed his young team-mate to become a leading light on the global stage, provided he is allowed the time to develop.
“First of all, he’s 18, he’s still young. He has a lot of time,” the former Sweden captain told MUTV.
“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.
“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.”
Mourinho has highlighted Ibrahimovic as a key role model for the young players at Old Trafford, but the 34-year-old believes they would flourish without him.
“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,” he added.