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Rashford transfer U-turn, Barcelona talks and Messi concern

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Marcus Rashford’s Man Utd transfer U-turn, Barcelona talks and Lionel Messi concern

Marcus Rashford is currently excelling for Manchester United but several years ago pondered leaving Old Trafford as Barcelona came calling before the player opted to stay put

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Manchester United prepare for Europa League trip to Barcelona

Marcus Rashford is setting records for Manchester United, but four years ago he entertained the possibility of leaving Old Trafford.

The forward, who has enjoyed a renaissance this year after a poor season, is leading the scoring charts for the Red Devils – his latest big moment coming in the win over Leeds. Rashford is very much the main man in a United side who are on the rise under Erik ten Hag.

Rashford’s quality has never been in doubt having first been broadcast with a debut cameo in the Europa League that had his name up in lights. Since then there’s been further highs – a winning goal in the Manchester derby, completing a historic European night in Paris – but also some lows, namely in the Euro 2020 final.

English players have become more open to spending time on the continent than they once were. Jude Bellingham and Rashford’s team-mate Jadon Sancho excelled in Germany and Rashford thought about a sensational switch to Barcelona when they came calling back in 2019.

The proposal and the u-turn

In the early months of the year, with Rashford then just 21, the United star had 18 months left on his deal and the upcoming summer was set to be a defining one. Barcelona knew that Luis Suarez’s time at the Nou Camp was coming to an end due to his age profile.

It left them looking for a versatile forward, capable of playing in several positions, who they could see playing as per the Barcelona ethos. Rashford was among a list that also included Antoine Griezmann, Luka Jovic, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Rodrigo.

Marcus Rashford was unsure on his next step back in 2019

Barcelona’s General Manager at the time – Pep Segura – was, according to Mundo Deportivo, alerted in 2018 that Rashford had doubts over whether to extend his stay with United or pursue options elsewhere and held several meetings with his representatives.

In the eyes of the Spanish club Rashford was an attractive proposition from a football and an economical point of view. The United man, through his agent, told the Catalans that he too was interested in a move to LaLiga before a late change of heart changed his path.

Rashford had broken into the Red Devils first-team at an early age and was quickly a mainstay despite changes in the dugout with Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer all utilising him. He begun to question whether a switch to Spain was the right thing for him at the time.

The forward was unsure about sharing a dressing room with Lionel Messi

He’d have to leave the only environment he’d ever known, adapt to a new style, learn a new language and, eventually, he opted to remain in Manchester – with his relationship with Solskjaer, then in charge, a factor. United were also quick to offer a lucrative deal when they learned about the possibility of his exit.

Messi concerns

Another factor in Rashford’s decision was walking alongside Lionel Messi. For some this would be the dream, but the forward was aware of the challenges that would come with walking into a dressing room that included global stars like Messi and Suarez.

The Argentine, who was enjoying a season that would see him claim the Ballon d’Or in late 2019, doesn’t have a reputation for wanting the limelight.

That said, he is the central point at the fulcrum on which his team operates. Even back then Barcelona player were working to get the best from Messi.

Rashford would’ve had to fallen in line, whilst there would’ve been room for him to still express himself. He once said on the Argentine: “The way [Messi] finds spaces, he’s unbelievable. When I played against him for the first time, that’s what I said to Jesse [Lingard, a teammate] at half time. He doesn’t move, but he’s everywhere, because he lets everybody else move.”

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