Marcus Rashford stalling over new Manchester United contract with striker demanding £200,000 a week
- Marcus Rashford is hesitating over signing a new Manchester United contract
- Rashford, whose deal expires in the summer of 2020, wants £200,000-a-week
- The 21-year-old striker has been linked with a move to Spanish giants Barcelona
Rashford was linked with a move to Barcelona in the build-up to United’s Champions League exit at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night, a 3-0 defeat that emphasised the yawning gap in class between the two clubs.
United were disappointed about the timing of the reports and insist Rashford is not for sale.
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford is stalling over signing a new contract
A Manchester-born product of the club’s academy, he is the last player they would want to lose. It is understood the interest from Barcelona is genuine even though the Spaniards accept it will be very hard to prise the 21-year-old striker away from Old Trafford.
The speculation plays into the hands of Rashford’s camp at a time when talks have begun over a new contract. His deal runs out at the end of next season, although United have an option to extend it by 12 months.
Initial negotiations have been described as positive and the club are said to be relaxed about the situation.
However, Rashford’s representatives are in no hurry to commit when they are in such a strong bargaining position and believe they could have their pick of Europe’s top clubs.
Rashford, whose deal expires at the end of next season, is demanding £200,000 a week
They are looking for wages in excess of £200,000 a week and are also thought to be seeking assurances that Rashford will remain in a central role after ousting Romelu Lukaku as United’s first-choice centre forward.
The England international has discovered his top form under Solskjaer and was arguably United’s best player over the two legs against Barcelona.
However, the manager is said to have detected a change in Rashford’s demeanour on the pitch in recent weeks, noting the youngster’s uncharacteristic tendency to show his displeasure and even sulk at times.
There are also concerns that Paul Pogba is beginning to slip back into his old ways and lose focus, while Anthony Martial’s performance in the Nou Camp was typical of a player whose form has dipped dramatically since he signed a new contract at the end of January.
Paul Pogba tries to get away from Philippe Coutinho at the Nou Camp on Tuesday evening
The Rashford situation highlights the problems facing United as they try to become a major European force again under Solskjaer.
The Norwegian acknowledged the task ahead of him in the wake of a humbling defeat in Spain, saying: ‘That’s the level we have to aspire to. We can get there but we have loads of work to do.
‘I’ve said all along this isn’t going to change overnight. The next few years are going to be massive to get to the level of Barcelona and other teams.’
United not only have to embark on a major overhaul of the squad this summer, they also have to convince key players like Rashford, Pogba and David de Gea to stay when the club is clearly in transition. Pogba is being linked with a move to Real Madrid a year after courting Barcelona.
The 21-year-old has discovered his best form under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Madrid could also renew their pursuit of De Gea now Zinedine Zidane has returned to the Bernabeu, while Paris Saint-Germain retain an interest in the goalkeeper, whose indifferent season continued with an awful blunder for Barcelona’s second goal.
MARCUS RASHFORD’S RECORD THIS SEASON
Premier League: 28 games, 10 goals, seven assists
Champions League: 10 games, two goals, one assist
FA Cup: Four games, one goal, one assist
Total: 42 games, 13 goals, nine assists
The Old Trafford hierarchy have prioritised signing two central midfielders, a right back and a right winger, but it is unlikely to stop there after a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona exposed the shortcomings of a squad desperately in need of change.
Four of United’s back five at the Nou Camp — De Gea, Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling — were in the line-up when Sir Alex Ferguson’s side went out of the Champions League to Basle in 2011.
That raises questions over the decision to hand Smalling and Jones new long-term contracts recently — Young has also agreed a 12-month extension — and United’s assertion that they do not need to sign a new centre back in the summer.
The club have also offered new deals to midfielders Ander Herrera and Juan Mata, although Herrera will almost certainly leave for PSG. Mata is likely to go as well, along with Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian.