The Englishman burst onto the scene last season with a rip-roaring first few months in the senior side, netting eight goals under Louis van Gaal and receiving a place in England’s 23-man squad for Euro 2016.
Rashford was initially kept out of the starting XI by Jose Mourinho this season, but a sensational performance from the bench against Hull City, followed by a catalogue of strong displays against the likes of Manchester City and Leicester City, saw the youngster recapture his place on the left hand side.
Mata, speaking earlier this week, was quick to shower praise on the Englishman.
“His quality is undeniable. But I see his mind is in the right place, he’s focused,” he said.
“I love to see that because I’ve seen a lot of players with great qualities but at the end they were focused on different things. He is taking the chance, every time he plays he is playing right. He’s scoring goals, he’s helping the team.
“I think he’s going to be a very important player for Man United and for England – and he’s still only 19.”
Now, this may sound daft, but I have actually been more encouraged by what Rashford has displayed this season under Mourinho, as opposed to what he showcased under van Gaal.
Last season was dreamlike for Rashford – a kind of honeymoon period, if you will. Anything that could have gone his way did go his way. It was almost like a case of ‘beginners luck’, such was his constant, meteoric and ultimately inexplicable rise to success. He had, of course, been simply brilliant – but could he do it again, in his first full season, competing against the likes of Zlatan Ibrahmovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan?
The answer, emphatically, is yes: he hasn’t produced a constant string of game changing moments, but he has morphed into a mature, fearless team player, committing everything to the cause. And that, above anything, places him in good stead for the future.