Erik ten Hag has told Marcus Rashford he is critical to his plans to make Manchester United great again amid uncertainty over the England striker’s long-term future at the club.
Rashford is in the form of his life, with 17 goals already this season, but the 25-year-old has entered the final 18 months of his contract at Old Trafford and is attracting strong interest from Paris Saint-Germain.
United are in dialogue with Rashford’s representatives over a new deal but the player is understood to be firmly focused on his football and keen to avoid any distractions for now as he targets silverware this season.
It means United - who face Nottingham Forest in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final at the City Ground on Wednesday - could face an anxious wait on Rashford’s future, with PSG and other potential suitors lurking in the background.
But Ten Hag has told the player that he is at the best club to realise his ambitions and that the team is being built to maximise his talents.
Ten Hag: United need Rashford
Asked how important it is that United keep Rashford and how talks were progressing, Ten Hag said: “The last [question] I can’t answer – it is confidential about talks between clubs and players.
“I think he understands Man United is his club, that’s first but also, in this environment, in this team, I think he is playing his best football.
“He is improving and that is about him because he’s working on the good things. He is giving 100 percent energy in it and he has a good plan and I think also in this team he can bring his qualities.
“So this team can help him be in the right position and to score goals, which he is good at. This team is constructed that his qualities come to the fore and I think he knows that.
“But, definitely yes, he is important for us and if we want to get the success we want – we need him.”
Rashford would only have 12 months left on his contract should United fail to tie him to a new deal before then and that would leave the striker in a strong bargaining position.
PSG are likely to be in the market for a leading attacker this summer with Lionel Messi, who is out of contract at the end of the season, wanted by MLS franchise Inter Miami and Kylian Mbappe still coveted by Real Madrid. Questions have also been raised about Neymar’s longer-term future at the club.
Ten Hag said PSG’s interest in Rashford was a compliment to the player and United but wants his leading goalscorer to help lead the fight for the club to become the dominant club force again.
“I hope that all our players can have interest from clubs because that means you do a good job, [that] the team is outperforming so that is what we are aiming for,” he said.
“Then, I would say this is the best place to be because we want to construct the best team, first in England, then in Europe then in the world.”
'It is too long since we won a trophy'
United have not won silverware since lifting the Europa League in 2017 and are currently in the midst of their longest trophy drought for 40 years.
Ten Hag is determined to end that long wait this season and believes a trophy could be a catalyst going forward.
“It is too long that this club didn’t win a trophy,” he said. “It belongs to this club to win trophies so we have to get back on track. Pressure? We like the pressure and we need the pressure, that is good. We have to deal with that, it gives us more motivation so we perform even better.
“It [winning a trophy] gives you confidence. Once you are winning trophies that gives you confidence that you know how you do it and, also in the difficult moments, how you stay in the game … that you know what you have to do to get there.
“Finally, winning trophies is also mental … winning games is one [thing], winning trophies is another thing. In these decisive moments [you] know what to do. I think it is a thin line. We grow a lot mentally but still we have a step to go.”
Anthony Martial, Diogo Dalot and Jadon Sancho are still missing and will not be available against Forest.