MARCUS RASHFORD is in a bad place. That much is clear. Something is wrong.
But it is equally evident that something, serious, is wrong between Rashfordand Manchester United.
Something that could be altered by a clean break.
That would make financial sense as well as footballing sense to the new Old Trafford hierarchy.
And in the era when, finally, Financial Fair Play is a concept with genuine teeth, selling schoolboy Unitedfan Rashford would be the best solution for EVERYBODY involved.
Some United supporters will be aghast at the idea. It would be the new owners selling the family silver.
But if that silver is tarnished, if that silver does not work on the table any more, if that silver can be replaced with something potentially better, why wouldn’t you do it?
After all, it’s not as if Rashford’s performances are keeping United’s head above water this season.
Four goals in 25 appearances across all competitions. For a club and a team in desperate need of a goal threat, it simply is not good enough.
In the summer, off the back of a 30-goal campaign last term, selling Rashford would have been a ludicrous concept.
But he only scored five in the previous – admittedly injury-hit – campaign, in 32 games. Last season now looks like the blip. He has reverted to type.
Given the way Jadon Sancho was discarded, ostracised and eventually sent packing back on loan to Dortmund – seemingly never to return, as least for as long as Erik ten Hag remains manager – persisting with an out of sorts, unhappy and under-performing Rashford hardly screams out consistency.
Ineos and Sir Jim Ratcliffe might think building a new team requires the old “Class of 92” mentality – and Rashford is the ultimate local boy made good.
But if Ratcliffe really wants to make the mark he intends to, then he has to play within the financial rules that are impacting every club in the Prem.
Alongside United, Arsenal and Newcastle – as well as Aston Villa and even Chelsea – are hamstrung from entering the January market because of the Prem’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules.
There are two ways to create wriggle room on expenditure – grow the income and make money in the market.
And the best way to make money is by selling players you have created – like Rashford.
Even after this season’s issues, on and off the pitch, an auction for Rashford in the summer would have bidders, starting at £70m and probably prepared to go near to £100m.
And that income would give United a PSR warchest worth far more.
Fees paid for players you buy are “amortised” over the length of the initial contract. So a £100m player signing a five year deal has an FFP “cost” of just £20m per season.
But all profits from sales, even if the fee is actually paid in long-term instalments, is banked at the full value.
Effectively, if Rashford is sold for £100m, United would be able to spend £400m – taking new players’ wages into account – and balance the books.
It is the policy that helped Chelseabreak all spending records since the arrival of Todd Boehly without busting the PSR limit.
Last summer, they sold Mason Mount, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ethan Ampadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi for a total of £82m.
That covered – in terms of FFPaccounting – most of their staggering £400m-plus outlay.
Selling in the summer would be good for United, giving them funds for a rebuild.
And good for Rashford too – the chance for a fresh start, to clear his head, to get back to being the player we know he can be.
Sometimes the hard decisions are actually the easiest ones to make.
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