Rashford burst onto the scene at United in 2015, and the 24-year-old has already racked up over 200 Premier League appearances for the Red Devils. But he struggled last season, and had to settle for the bench for large parts of the campaign.
The Times reported that Tottenham were knocked back by United after expressing interest in the forward, with Antonio Conte keen to bolster his attacking line ahead of the new season. But while Mourinho was at Tottenham, he tipped youngster Dane Scarlett to be the ‘new Rashford’ as he showered him with praise.
It was Mourinho that promoted a then 16-year-old Scarlett to the first team back in 2021, as the former Tottenham boss explained how he saw “incredible talent” in the forward. Scarlett has been given some opportunities off the bench under Conte, but has seen his game time lessened ever since Mourinho was sacked.
Scarlett made his debut at a similar age that Rashford did, although his trajectory has not been the same. Mourinho promised to make Scarlett a regular member of the first team during the 2021/22 season, but he was sacked before it even began.
But although Conte is now in the dugout, perhaps he can take some of Mourinho’s advice and give Scarlett a chance if a deal for Rashford is not possible. And Mourinho was convinced back in 2021 that Scarlett was destined for greatness.
Mourinho said: “Dane has incredible talent. I don’t want to speak too much because tomorrow I arrive in the building and the kid’s boss is going to kill me. I don’t want that so I don’t want to speak too well about him.
“I just want to say that he will be 17 next month and I want him to be part of the first team squad next season. So this season he is there and here, goes to training sessions with us and matches with the kids of his age and trains there.
“Next season he has to be a first team player. Immense talent. Very good physical development. He’s very good, he’s going to be very good.
“I hope that nothing is going to destroy that potential. He must have feet on the ground and head on his shoulders because he has a fantastic talent.” And it was under Mourinho that Rashford played some of his best football at United, meaning that the current Roma boss was drawing from direct experience in his comparisons.
And Mourinho even planned to use him like he utilised Rashford at United, as he added: “He is going to be a fantastic player. He has fantastic talent. Next season he will be a first-team player. I am playing him from the side but he is a nine a bit like I did with Marcus Rashford.”
However, Conte clearly rates the star as after the recent season ended, the forward was handed a new Tottenham contract. His new deal runs until 2026, and it likely to be given more opportunities next season, slightly later than Mourinho promised.