Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford “can be a world star”, says former midfielder Paul Scholes.
The teenager has played a key role this season, scoring 10 goals including an extra-time winner in the Europa League quarter-final against Anderlecht.
“Rashford will be a brilliant centre forward, there is no doubt about that,” Scholes told BBC Radio 5 live.
“His pace is incredible. He’s almost the club’s most important player now at the age of 19.”
Rashford has played 49 games for United and England this season, having broken into his club’s first-team last term.
Just four months into his first professional season in February 2016, he was selected for Euro 2016 by England manager Roy Hodgson.
Scholes, who played 718 games for United, feels Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s knee injury will give Rashford the chance to impress up front for the Red Devils.
“What we saw against Anderlecht was raw pace, the excitement, skill and ability to fly past people as if they are not there,” said the ex-England international.
“He probably needs to work on his composure with the chances he is getting, but if he stats putting his chances away – I am sure he will.
“He has always been a centre forward. When I saw him playing for the young United teams, he was scoring 30-40 goals a season. I know this lad can finish and score goals.
“I am just a little bit worried that he is so quick he may get shoved out wide, which is not a bad thing. You look at Cristiano Ronaldo’s record and players like Neymar, he has that kind of ability. It is a lot to live up to but he has that in him. He can be a world star.”
Time to let Ibrahimovic go?
Ibrahimovic landed awkwardly late on in normal time against the Belgians, and the club are waiting to find out the extent of the injury.
The 35-year-old Swede joined the Old Trafford side on a one-year deal last summer, and has scored 28 goals in 46 games. But he is yet to agree an extension for next term.
In their last league game, Ibrahimovic was left on the bench, while Rashford scored in an impressive 2-0 victory over Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Scholes added: “Historically, United have 50 or 60 games and he has to play centre forward in the big games, that is because of his pace. Next year we will see two top centre forwards come in.
“When I think of Manchester United and forward players, I always think of three or four top forwards. When I was playing we had Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Teddy Sheringham, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole. Rashford can be part of that.
“Zlatan is not the type of character to play 25-26 games against the weaker opposition, not against the top teams and that will hurt him. If they want to progress, that is what they will have to do in the big games.”
‘Rashford should not go to the Euros’
Manager Jose Mourinho does not think Rashford should be selected for England Under-21s at this summer’s European Championship.
The Portuguese said that “when a player reaches a certain level, it does not make a lot of sense to drop levels”, but admitted “the power” is in the Football Association’s hands over the decision.
Rashford already has eight senior England caps and the Portuguese compared the situation to Rashford being selected for United’s under-23 team to win “say a derby against Manchester City”.
“[Head of academy] Nicky Butt does not pick him to play that game. He could by age,” added Mourinho.
In May 2016, Rashford signed a new contract worth £20,000-a-week at Old Trafford to keep him at the club until 2020.
Aidy Boothroyd’s England U21 side have been drawn in a group alongside hosts Poland, Slovakia and Sweden for the tournament which runs from 16 to 30 June.