Barcelona’s Alejandro Balde has opened up on his admiration for Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford while admitting that he wishes the Premier League star had a Spanish passport rather than an English one. 

Balde found out first hand, back in the Spring, just how devastating Manchester United’s number ten can be when in full flow. 

Barcelona took on Erik ten Hag’s side in the UEFA Europa League six months ago. And Marcus Rashford – perhaps the most in-form forward anywhere in the world football at the time – ensured that he would leave his mark on a titanic tussle between two continental powerhouses. 

FC Barcelona v Tottenham Hotspur - Pre Season Friendly
Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Marcus Rashford was Barcelona’s bogeyman

Rashford embarrassed Marc-Andre ter Stegen from the tightest of angles in Catalonia before forcing an own goal from Jules Kounde with the kind of mazy dribble Lionel Messi once made his calling card on the hallowed Camp Nou turf. 

And Balde, who started in the second leg at Old Trafford, admits to ESPN that he would rather be playing alongside Rashford than against him.  

“One English player that I would like to be Spanish is Marcus Rashford,” says Barcelona’s La Masia graduate.

“Because he is a player who I like. I like his way of playing.” 

Ten Hag wants more from Manchester United star

Rashford, last season, became Man United’s first 30-goal-a-season player since Robin van Persie a decade ago. Few would bet against the Mancunian magician beating that tally in 2023/24 either, particularly if Antony, Jadon Sancho and Alejandro Garnacho can build upon impressive pre-season performances. 

“There’s a lot of room for improvement in (Rashford’s) game,” Ten Hag told the Man United website in May. “And I’m convinced he could score even more. I think when you take for instance the last ten games, he didn’t score so many goals. I think only two or three. 

“We are happy but yeah, we have to push for more. I’m sure he’s capable of scoring 40 goals in the season.” 

Rashford will hope to get off the mark against Wolves on Monday’s Premier League opener.