Jose Mourinho believes that Marcus Rashford has the potential to become a Manchester United and England great.
The United manager has promised to give the 18-year-old the support he needs to succeed.
Mourinho arrived at Old Trafford during the summer with a reputation for preferring experienced players at the expense of youth development.
He attempted to rebut this at his first United press conference last month by suggesting that he has brought through 49 young players during his 16-year managerial career.
The signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer this summer raised questions as to how much game time Rashford might get this season.
The teenager impressed as a central striker after breaking into the United side in February, scoring four goals in his first two senior matches at club level, and finishing the season with eight in total before winning a place in England’s Euro 2016 squad.
He is more likely to feature in a wide role this season, with Ibrahimovic set to take on the job of the central striker in the 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations that Mourinho prefers.
However Rashford’s qualities have made an impression on the new United manager, who says that he can understand why the striker is being spoken of so highly.
Rashford’s rise to prominence was one of the highlights of United’s 2015/16 season (Getty)
“Yeah. I see all of that,” said Mourinho, whose team travel to Bournemouth for their opening Premier League game of the season on Sunday. “I like him a lot. He’s very good.
“Of course, he’s a young boy. He has a lot to learn. At his age, he can have ups and downs, and you have to be ready to support him if that’s the case. But potentially, he’s a very good player.
“He’s a very good professional. He knows how to be a professional. The way he works, the way he lives, it is very good.”
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Mourinho has indicated that Rashford, a player he has described as “important” for United, will benefit from the experience of Ibrahimovic.
The manager declined to be drawn, however, on how often he felt he needed to play the teenager in order to ensure he stays in contention for Sam Allardyce’s England squad.
“The England squad is Sam’s decision, not my decision,” Mourinho said. “But he is one of my important players. He will play a lot and then it is down to Sam to make a decision.”
The United manager has also promised to help rebuild the career of Memphis Depay, who suffered a poor first season at Old Trafford.
Depay will be given the chance to save his United career by Mourinho (Getty)
Depay scored only two league goals last season following his £25million move from PSV Eindhoven, and was left out of the matchday squad for last Sunday’s Community Shield victory over Leicester City.
“Of course I want him to be part of my squad,” Mourinho said. “I want to try everything and the way he is working is so good that for sure, we all believe that is possible.
“I believe in him, yes. Especially as I see a good boy, a good kid, a good professional. I don’t care what people think. You can see him driving a nice car and you think this guy is not thinking about football but that is not the case.
“The kid thinks about football, the kid suffers because he is frustrated with what happened last season where he lost all his conference. But he will be back.”
Pogba is unavailable for United’s trip to Bournemouth (Getty)
New signing Paul Pogba is suspended for the Bournemouth game, as a result of bookings collected while playing for Juventus in the Coppa Italia last season.
He has not travelled to the south coast, instead remaining in the north-west to train and build up match fitness, having been given a break after helping France reach last month’s Euro 2016 final.