Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes Marcus Rashford’s talent is so great that the forward will in time “take over everything” and pledged to help the Manchester United teenager reach his peak.
It is just 199 days since the relatively unknown 18-year-old was thrown in for a last-minute debut in February’s Europa League last-32 clash with FC Midtjylland.
A brace against the Danes proved just the start, scoring another double against Arsenal on his Premier League bow and the winner at Manchester City, before netting on his England debut, going to Euro 2016 and netting a hat-trick on his maiden England Under-21s appearance.
Such talent has excited United supporters and fans nationwide, but Rashford has been used off the bench so far by Jose Mourinho having started regularly under predecessor Louis van Gaal.
Ibrahimovic knows it is only a matter of time until the forward is shining from the start, but the summer signing believes this patient, gentle approach will pay dividends.
“First of all, he’s 18, he’s still young,” said Ibrahimovic, who is reportedly set to be offered a new United deal. “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.
“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.”
Ibrahimovic’s arrival has helped alleviate pressure that could have started to build on Rashford after his stunning breakthrough season.
The teenager insists he can learn plenty from the 34-year-old, who knows a thing or two about what is needed to flourish at the top and will help his team-mate to do the same.
“I’ll help him every day, him and all the others, in any way I can,” he told MUTV.
“I’m happy it gives an effect but, even if I was not here, they would still do good.”