What Man Utd signing Perisic means for Marcus Rashford

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The 19-year-old was a key part of United's 2016-17 campaign and is relishing the prospect of a more central role this time round


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Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his desire to sign Ivan Perisic from Inter this summer, with a deal to bring the winger to Old Trafford looking imminent.  

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While Mourinho led United to the Community Shield, the EFL Cup, and the Europa League last season, the Portuguese has since stressed the importance of adding to his squad as they look to improve on their sixth-place finish last time out.

Perisic to United is a transfer which suits all parties. A typical Mourinho player - the winger has crafted his game to incorporate a perpetual work-rate while being defensively adept - he is exactly what United require. 

And, despite concerns raised surrounding his development, the signing of the 28-year-old Croatia international would potentially be a game changer for Marcus Rashford.   

Only David De Gea made more Premier League appearances for United than Rashford last season, though the 19-year-old's time on the pitch was split across a number of forward positions - predominantly down the left-hand side of Mourinho's frontline.   

Should Perisic become a United player, the left-wing position will be his.   

United were left short on occasions last season; without an attack-minded left-back in defence, Rashford was often afforded the whole flank to operate though it would prove detrimental to his overall impact. With a natural left-sided outlet in Perisic patrolling the touchline, Rashford will almost certainly be pushed into his natural centre-forward position as Romelu Lukaku's understudy.   

Should he remain fit, United's £75 million-signing will lead the line throughout the 2017-18 Premier League campaign, with Rashford - who scored five league goals last season - filling in during fleeting absences and for cup competitions. Rashford's versatility has far from hindered his development. The teenager has evolved his all-round game as a result, something which Mourinho holds in high regard.

"Last season in this period everyone was saying it would be difficult for me to play him, but he was one of the top appearance-makers of the team last season which is good for his evolution," Mourinho said during pre-season. 

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"He played in the Europa League, important matches, and he's learning a lot. He's a great pro, has a great attitude and last season he maybe was not scoring a lot of goals and missing some chances but it was not a drama because that's part of the evolution. We know he is going to score more goals than last season."  

Rashford is currently in a similar position to Anthony Martial, though holds a significant advantage over the Frenchman in that Mourinho sees the England international as an integral part to his attacking set-up. Both are among the most exciting young players in the English top-flight, though find themselves in markedly different situations. 

Mourinho on Rashford GFX  

Lukaku's arrival presents Mourinho with the options he desired last season, with Martial, Rashford and potentially Perisic available on the left, while Lukaku leads the line. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard will battle for the right wing, depending on whether Mourinho deploys a 4-2-3-1 formation or a 4-3-3, with Juan Mata filling the gaps.   

Mourinho gave up the Premier League last season in favour of other trophies, with injuries and a build-up of fixtures eliminating their chances of challenging for all competitions. With the addition of Lukaku, the revival of Martial in pre-season, and the impending arrival of Perisic, Mourinho now has the attack he requires to mount a serious title challenge.   

"I think different games require different tactics and it just gives the manager one extra thing to use," Rashford previously said of Mourinho's options. "It's not only me and Romelu. We can play with Anthony [Martial] and Romelu. We've got a few different options that we can play. It widens our chances of glory next season."  

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Rashford's pace is extremely attractive to Mourinho and could be devastating if used alongside Lukaku in a central position this season. Rashford has undergone an extensive strength regime over the summer and has filled his frame considerably since the end of the 2016-17 campaign, going some way to refine what many considered a weakness last term. 

 

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"It's just the natural evolution of the kid. An accumulation of minutes on the pitch," Mourinho said of Rashford's conditioning during pre-season. "You change your body when you're a young kid, he's already taller than when I arrived 13 months ago. He's three centimetres taller and he put some muscle on, but without any kind of specific work because his speed is the most important quality. Today he was in a different team to Lukaku [first half and second half]. We will also try both in the same team which I think can also work."  

Rashford remains a crucial part to Mourinho's United side and will flit between the wing and a central role, regardless of whether Perisic completes a deal before the start of the season. With additional attacking players in Mourinho's rank, though, the Portuguese's may be pushed into reverting Rashford into the middle of attack as United continue their quest for trophies.

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