A fortnight ago we wondered whether it might be bad luck which forces United to snap into action in the transfer market. We might be about to get our answer.
The Telegraph report Marcus Rashford has been feeling pain in his ankle and is likely to drop out of the England squad.
Rashford was reportedly playing through pain in the Europa League, and it cannot have helped when he was scythed down by Sevilla’s Diego Carlos after just six minutes of the semi-final to give United an early penalty.
If United had several options for the left-wing spot, Rashford would not have been required to play with an injury in the first place.
Having only just returned from a serious back injury, United asked a lot of Rashford after the lockdown. He started 15 of 17 games in all competitions.
This was already an excessive demand of a player who has now played 214 professional games for the club at 22, with 44 of them made in the 2019/20 season – in which he missed two months with injury.
One of United’s priorities this window should have been to find additional cover for his position, for the benefits of both extra rest, and extra competition.
Reported injury may bring this into focus
While this ankle injury appears to be a minor one, if Rashford does not get the rest he needs, he risks aggravating it.
United need to give Rashford rest where possible, especially early in the season. But there is a distinct lack of options.
Dan James could get a run of games on the left, where he showed some promising early form in 2019/20. But this is not ideal.
Putting Jesse Lingard out wide, or Andreas Pereira, as have both happened in the past, are far from adequate solutions either.
United need a player who fits naturally in the position to share the workload with Rashford.
Jadon Sancho, while touted as a right winger, can play from the left and will likely end up splitting his time across positions if he does end up joining.
Jack Grealish has been playing on the left wing for Aston Villa for much of the past 12 months, very effectively too.
If the prices being demanded for both are too high, United need to find a cheaper option.
One we have previously suggested is Red Bull Salzburg’s Dominik Szoboszlai, who scored 12 goals and provided 18 assists for the Austrian club in 2019/20. He would be available at a third of the price it would cost to sign Jack Grealish.
Either way, United need to do something, for the sake of the team and for Marcus Rashford’s short-term and long-term fitness.
Rashford is a big part of United’s present, and can be a top player for the club for the next decade.
But if mismanagement gives Solskjaer so few options he ends up overplaying Rashford to the point where he keeps sustaining injuries, it would be a crying shame.
This latest minor knock should sharply bring United’s priorities into focus and ramp up United’s determination to get business done this summer.
Failing to offer Rashford adequate support and competition would be negligent on United’s part.
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