Danny Higginbotham has warned Premier League clubs that they risk making young players “go sterile” following reports that Manchester United are set to hand Marcus Rashford a new deal worth £15,000-a-week.
Rashford, making his Premier League debut, scored twice and created another against Arsenal on Sunday.
The 18-year-old is reportedly set to be rewarded as a result, but Higginbotham, who played for Man United between 1997 and 2000, believes that starlets “stagnate” when giving too much money, too young.
“It is a ridiculous amount of money but it’s the nature of the beast now, it’s unfortunately the way football’s going,” he said.
“I think it’s been detrimental to a lot of youngsters. We now have a generation of young players who can be driven by money at times. You have to be very careful because a player can rest on their laurels when you do get that size a contract at that young an age.
“If you give these young players a ridiculous amount of money at the age of 18, and they might not have even made a first-team appearance, where then is their desire, determination and commitment to get even better? We’ve seen it over the years. A lot of youngsters now probably get their best contract at the age of 19 or 20, but that shouldn’t be the case.
“A players’ contract should be progressive and you should get your best contract at your peak years of 28-30. By giving young players these big contracts, clubs are unintentionally making a lot of lads go sterile. It’s becoming a big problem because players are stagnating and are not progressing from the age of 20 onwards.”
Higginbotham has a point; while Rashford has been nothing short of excellent in the two games that he has played for United, it is a tad reactionary to considerably increase his pay following a handful of minutes on the pitch.
Louis van Gaal seems to know what he’s doing when it comes to United’s youngsters and he will no doubt be aware of what the best course of action is when it comes to Rashford.