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Keep or sell: The transfer conundrum facing Manchester United

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Keep or sell: The transfer conundrum facing Manchester United.

Manchester United need to make a crucial decision to either keep or sell Marcus Rashford in this transfer window.

A graduate of the Manchester United youth setup, Marcus Rashford became part of the club at the tender age of seven. He made an immediate impact by scoring two goals in both his first-team and European debuts against Midtjylland in the UEFA Europa League in February 2016, followed by another two goals in his Premier League debut against Arsenal three days later. Rashford continued his scoring streak by netting in his inaugural Manchester derby, as well as on his debuts in the EFL Cup and UEFA Champions League. Throughout his time with United, Rashford has clinched two FA Cups, two EFL Cups, the FA Community Shield, and the UEFA Europa League.

Manchester United need to make a crucial decision to either keep or sell Marcus Rashford in this transfer window.
Marcus Rashford celebrates after scoring for Manchester United

The rise of Marcus Rashford

Rashford’s breakthrough occurred in February 2016, when he debuted for Manchester United’s senior team in a UEFA Europa League encounter against FC Midtjylland. Seizing the moment, he netted two goals, instantly leaving a significant mark. Within days, he replicated this achievement during his Premier League debut against Arsenal, further establishing himself as a burgeoning talent.

Under the guidance of various managers, including Louis van Gaal, José Mourinho, and Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Rashford continued to progress and hone his skills. His adaptability enabled him to feature in various attacking roles, showcasing his speed, technical prowess, and sharp scoring instinct. Particularly noteworthy were his performances in pivotal matches and his ability to score crucial goals, which cemented his place as a regular starter.

Marcus Rashford established himself as one of Manchester United’s standout performers with a string of notable achievements on the field. Since his debut in 2016, Rashford has played a crucial role in securing important wins for his club. He has made substantial contributions to Manchester United’s trophy collection, clinching titles such as the FA Cup, the EFL Cup, and the UEFA Europa League. These triumphs have emphasized his significance to the team and his capability to deliver in critical moments.

Manchester United need to make a crucial decision to either keep or sell Marcus Rashford in this transfer window.
Marcus Rashford had a meteoric rise at the start of his career. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Dip in form for the Englishman

Marcus Rashford witnessed a dip in form in the 2021-22 season. This was his worst season for Manchester United since he made his debut in 2016. A return of just 5 goals and 2 assists out of 32 games played was a disappointment to say the least. The forward came under intense scrutiny from the English press.

In June 2022, Rashford found himself at a critical juncture in his career. He was omitted from the England squad for the four Nations League matches following a challenging season that commenced with a postponed shoulder surgery, undertaken to enable his participation in Euro 2020. The tournament concluded with the emotional distress of a crucial missed penalty in a shootout, a responsibility he was tasked with after being brought on for that specific purpose.

Despite captivating the nation’s attention and garnering widespread admiration for his relentless advocacy to address child poverty during the lockdown period, Rashford was encountering difficulties in his professional football career. He was in need of a fresh start.

Manchester United need to make a crucial decision to either keep or sell Marcus Rashford in this transfer window.
Marcus Rashford faced a drastic dip in form in the 2021-22 season. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Resurgence in 2022-23

Marcus Rashford had a resurgence in form in the 2022-23 season which helped silence the growing noise around his performance from the previous season. The forward contributed 30 goals and 10 assists in all competitions to mark a remarkable comeback.

Marcus Rashford himself stated that he considered this to be his best season in terms of individual performance. He said to Premier League productions:

When asked by Premier League Productions if this was his best campaign yet, he replied: “Individually, yes. But the year when Jose [Mourinho] was here, we won three trophies. For me, it’s about the trophies.

https://www.manutd.com/en/news/detail/marcus-rashford-agrees-this-has-been-his-best-individual-season-2022-23

Should Manchester United keep or sell Rashford

Marcus Rashford is somewhat of an enigma at Manchester United. The player had a dream start for any young player that comes through the youth academy. He has gained the kind of popularity that young players can only dream of. With his effort off the pitch, he has garnered even more acclaim which resulted in an MBE being awarded to him by the Crown. He has also seen a steep decline as well a comeback the very next season. He again faced a dip in form in the 2023-24 season which culminated into Gareth Southgate dropping him from the England squad for the upcoming Euros.

Arguments can be made for and against selling Marcus Rashford. The English forward has made it a habit in recent times to blow hot and cold every season. Whether the United board decides to keep or sell him, it will be very difficult for them to reach that decision. There could be 2 reasons for keeping him at United. The first reason is that Rashford has come through the youth academy and is a very talented attacking option for the team which did not cost them an eye watering transfer fee. The second reason is that when he is on form he is untouchable on the football field which makes him a matchwinner on his day.

Even though there are reasons to keep Rashford at Old Trafford, we think that the best way forward for the team would be to let him go. United have had a bad track record when it comes to the timing of selling their players. A prime example is Anthony Martial who was the most expensive teenager in world football when United bought him but has never been able to reach his full potential due to injuries and lack of consistency in performances. The United board were unable to sell him over the years and the player has now finally left after his last contract expired. United need to ensure they do not repeat the same mistake with Marcus Rashford and are able to cash in on him before he reaches a point where United are unable to find him any suitors.

According to us, there are 3 reasons why the United board should sell Rashford. The first reason is his inconsistency. The Englishman has been very erratic with him performances on the field. Some games he is untouchable whereas in some games he comes off as lacking intent and has been accused by fans and pundits of not giving his all especially off the ball. the second reason is his sky high wages. He is on a 325,000 pounds/week contract which is even higher than arguably United’s best player – Bruno Fernandes. Such a high wage for any individual player is detrimental to the club when trying to sign players from other teams as they expect and demand similarly high wages making it unsustainable for the club to maintain such a wage structure in the long run.

The last reason is that he is at the right age where United can demand a decent transfer fee for his signature. If they decide to keep Rashford and he ends up blowing hot and cold over the next few seasons, it will then become very difficult for United to demand a decent transfer fee and will also price out most clubs as they will not be able to pay his astronomical wages.

Whether United decide to keep or sell Rashford, the decision will come down to the vision and trust that Erik Ten Hag has in him or any other manager if a change is made in the managerial position.