Why This English International Will Be A Key Figure For Manchester United Next Season (Not Rooney)

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Marcus Rashford is Manchester United’s most prized youth property at the moment. The 19-year-old striker, who was inducted in the first team by former boss Louis van Gaal as Ashley Fletcher was loaned to Barnsley, James Wilson went to Brighton, Will Keane picked up a groin injury after returning from Preston and Anthony Martial suffered an injury in the warm-up, and so, the Manchester-born lad made his first-team debut against FC Midtjylland in February. He has barely missed a game, or a chance, since.

He has scored in the Europa League, Premier League, and the FA Cup. Against Arsenal at Old Trafford and against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

And after taking two minutes to score on his England debut against Australia on Friday, he was also included in England’s Euro squad this year and has now returned to Carrington after some major tournament experience. Mourinho watched the teenager’s rise from afar, impressed with his maturity playing through the middle and out wide.  The Portuguese tactician has allayed all fears by stating he will give chances to anyone who takes them, and that their age doesn’t matter at all. Moreover, many United fans feared that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s arrival will hamper his progress, but according to Rashford: “We can definitely all learn from him while he is here, so we all need to take that chance. It’s a massive help to be with him every day and it’s great to see what he is like on and off the pitch. There is a lot to learn from him and hopefully I can bring some of his game into mine.”

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Some of those skills seem to have already been rubbing off on him, as Rashford would have admitted that from the bench, and looked lively when he replaced Ibrahimovic at half-term and helped United to win 5-2 against Galatasaray. His rise to the top may have been meteoric, but the English forward is happy to take it all in first. “I’m preparing for the new season now,” he said, “There’s no need to rush into anything. I’m taking my time, taking it steady.”

His obvious talent, eagerness to learn and the will to adapt is probably what will take him a long way in his career. The new United manager hasn’t got the same history of youth development as Louis van Gaal, but Rashford is not a young player looking for a chance. He’s already taken it – with United and England. And one hopes he goes on and builds on it now.

A thinker,thus a cynic.