The youngster, thrown in at the last minute after Anthony Martial pulled up in the warm up, announced himself in emphatic fashion against FC Midtjylland in February, scoring a match-winning brace.
Since then, Rashford has scored the winner in a Manchester derby, netted a debut hat-trick for England’s Under 21s, earned a place in England’s Euro 2016 squad and netted 13 senior goals.
Mata, speaking earlier this week, was quick to hand praise to the 19-year-old.
“I see him as a real talent. Obviously his quality is undeniable. But I see him with his mind in the right place – focused – and I love to see that,” he said.
“I’ve seen a lot of players with great quality, but in the end they were focused on different things.
“Every time he plays he is doing great, he’s scoring goals, he’s helping the team, he’s playing fearless and has the quality to do what he needs to do on the pitch.
“I think he’s going to be a very important player for Manchester United and England. He’s still only 19 and has become an important player for us already in a few months.”
Rashford is now nine months into his senior Man United career. Nine months. And the bubble still hasn’t burst.
This is because, unlike other promising starlets, Rashford possesses genuine substance. He makes headlines with his goals and spectacular, game-changing rampages forward, but beneath that lies a kind of steeliness – a determination to give everything to the cause.
I’ve heard people compare Rashford’s rise to stardom with a young Cristiano Ronaldo, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Portuguese placed – and still does place, in all honesty – his ego, his own persona first. “I am bigger than this entire club,” he says internally whilst standing there, horrified at a Karim Benzema tap-in that could have easily fallen to him instead.
Rashford, on the other hand, remains perfectly humble, placing the team first and himself second. And such an attitude is reflected in his exceptional work rate and desire to improve under Jose Mourinho.