Rashford has enjoyed a much-improved season for United, already equaling his goal tally from last season in 11 fewer appearances while also scoring three goals for England at the World Cup.
“From the first moment, I recognised huge potential,” Ten Hag told the club’s official website. “And now to get out the potential, I believe when Marcus’ positioning is on the back of the defending line, there is almost no better player in the world.
“There is Mbappe in this moment, a type like him, but when he [Rashford] is getting in that position, he’s great and you see he’s really improved also out of possession.”
Rashford has amassed 322 appearances for United after his breakthrough 2015-16 season, contributing 101 goals and 60 assists.
The 25-year-old’s contract expires in the summer but United have an option to extend it by a year. Ten Hag said the club will trigger the clause and that a decision for a further contract lies solely with Rashford.
“He [Rashford] has to make a decision,” he said. “The only thing we can do is show him this is the best club to be in, which has to do with the culture of the club and also in the way we are working, in the way we play and the way we train and if we are offering the right environment to progress.
“It’s a financial issue as well. Then it is up to him to make the decision. But for one-and-a-half years, he will be here.”
After a tough start to the season, the United boss has slowly started to see improved results and performances and he said he hopes his new regime will allow Rashford to enjoy playing for the club.
“One of the first things I said to him was come to training and smile,” he added. “We bring him exercises that hopefully bring players joy. They have to be effective but they have to be joyful as well and that gives you energy when you are happy. When you see the benefit of it, you can be happy.
“Actually, Marcus was one, from the start, who came with a smile to Carrington and left with a smile day by day. And, from the first moment, it really was a joy to work with him. I recognise his talent and his finishing talent [is] great.
United sit fifth in the Premier League with 26 points from 14 matches.