After a dismal last season, new Manchester United manager Erik tern Hag came in and plugged quite a few gaping holes in the squad during the summer transfer window.
But due to the enormous rebuilding job the Dutchman has undertaken, it is likely to take him a couple more transfer windows at least to sort out the mess.
Apart from buying players, there is also the problem of contracts ending that needs to be looked at. At the moment, ten first-team stars are set to become free agents in 2023.
One of the biggest names in that list is Marcus Rashford, the club’s top scorer this season with eight goals in 19 appearances across all competitions.
United trigger extension
The Mancunian also had a brilliant World Cup, emerging as the nation’s top scorer despite the lack of minutes handed to him by Gareth Southgate.
Ten Hag has revealed that the club will trigger the one-year extension option in his contract in a bid to avoid losing him for free next summer.
Paris Saint-Germain have been vocal about their interest in the United academy graduate and as pointed out by The Daily Telegraph, “Rashford is still in a strong negotiating position… and there is a growing fear the former academy player is being advised to run down his contract and seek a new challenge at the end of it.”
But the former Ajax boss is determined to keep a hold of his star asset and rather than talk, he feels the club needs to show ambition and the fact that they are on the right track apart from financial stability.
And whatever happens, the club will not be entertaining any requests for a sale for at least the next one-and-half years.
Ten Hag on Rashford & PSG interest: “He has to make a decision, so we can only show him that Man Utd is the best club to be in”. 🚨🔴 #MUFC
On deal to be extended until 2024 by triggering the option: “He has one-and-a-half years and yes, Rashford will be here for all of that”. pic.twitter.com/JDzgBz2tqc
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) December 11, 2022
“He [Marcus] has to make a decision,” the boss was quoted as saying by the club’s media department.
“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.
Rashford has Mbappe-like qualities
“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.”
The boss also compared the England international to global icon Kylian Mbappe and expressed that the pair have similar qualities and highlighted that Rashford could have the same devastating effect going forward under the Dutchman.
“From the first moment, I recognised huge potential,” added the manager. “And now to get out the potential, I believe when Marcus’s 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 [Marcus] is getting in that position, he’s great and you see he’s really improved also out of possession.”
This exchange between Mbappe and Rashford ❤️ pic.twitter.com/eq8muqQBhV
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) December 11, 2022
It has been quite a turnaround from the 25-year-old. He was supposed to be a world-beater when he emerged onto the scene under Louis Van Gaal.
And under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it seemed like he was close to reaching that potential. But the Euro 2020 heartbreak coupled with the shoulder injury almost derailed everything.
Rashford is back to his best
Last season, Rashford looked lost, disinterested and reports linking whim with an exit were rife. PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi also revealed that the pair had spoken regarding a future move.
But under Ten Hag, those negative habits have once again disappeared and the attacker is playing with a smile on his face and looks completely transformed.
“One of the first things I said to him was come to training and smile,” revealed the boss. “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.