Manchester United will be rewarded for taking a risk with Marcus Rashford this summer

Marcus Rashford
-Credit: (Image: 2024 Manchester United FC)

Marcus Rashford shared a photo of himself with tears in his eyes after the FA Cup final.

"People want to know what Machester United means to me," he wrote. Rashford played like it was his last game for the club at Wembley and some fans would like that to be true.

Others believe it would be a travesty for the academy's biggest success story in the last 10 years to leave this summer on the back of a disappointing campaign for him personally. United have collectively underperformed as a team but Rashford's drop-off has been stark.

Rashford scored 30 goals last season and produced eight this term, while there have been concerns over his body language. His Belfast trip further strained his relationship with supporters and it would clearly be logical to listen to offers for Rashford this summer.

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The forward's inconsistency has prevented him from being regarded as a world-class talent and it's not difficult to make a case that United should bank a fee for Rashford and move on.

Paris Saint-Germain have a longstanding interest in Rashford and with Kylian Mbappe departing, a summer move to the French capital would tick most boxes on paper.

Rashford could swap Manchester for Paris and enjoy a fulfilling chapter with PSG. There would be Ligue 1 titles, more goals against weaker opposition and an opportunity to reach the knockout rounds of the Champions League each season, but would it really be worth it?

It makes sense for United to sell Rashford if they could obtain a fee in the region of £80million, however, from the player's perspective, continuing his story at his boyhood club, who he grew up supporting, in the most competitive league in the world would surely appeal more.

Rashford has considered a move away from United but you'd struggle to find a professional player who hasn't entertained leaving a club they had a deep affinity with. Wayne Rooney asked to leave United in 2010 and Steven Gerrard wanted an exit from Liverpool in 2005.

Although Rashford may leave United this summer, a departure still feels unlikely and the 26-year-old returning to the best version of himself for the new season, hungry to prove a point and scoring goals again, seems the most probable outcome. We have seen this script before.

The Wythenshawe-born forward announced on Monday it was 'time to come away from social media for a few weeks' and said he intended to mentally and physically rest.

"Thanks to the fans that stood by me through a difficult period. To the ones that didn’t just remember at United, we always stick together," he added to that message.

Rashford's poor season was compounded by being left out of the provisional 33-man England squad last week and perhaps that disappointment is the jolt he needs.

There are factors outside of Rashford's control that help explain his regression, but the bulk of the blame must lie with him and only he can fix it by taking responsibility.

When the summer of 2022 arrived, Rashford had contributed just five goals and two assists in the previous season and he attacked a personal training regime before pre-season began. He spent time in the United States and it would be no surprise to see him there again this summer.

Rashford was in excellent mental and physical shape when Erik ten Hag's first pre-season began and that preparation laid the foundations for the best season of his career.

Another visit to the States, to complete a bespoke fitness training programme, before pre-season officially begins should be on the cards for Rashford because it's a proven method.

His outstanding 2022/23 season was the sandwich filler between two underwhelming campaigns and that pattern suggests Rashford can return to form in 2024/25.

In some ways, it could be considered a risk not to sell Rashford this summer. United could obtain a large transfer fee and would not be forced to wonder which version of Rashford will turn up, but it's a risk worth taking if he can put this season behind him for good.

Rashford has shown in the past he's capable of emphatically bouncing back from a poor campaign. He must do the same for United next term and, crucially, ensure it's the last time his performance levels drop to a standard that no player of his natural talent should reach.

Rashford loves playing for United and it would be a shame for that to end.