Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Five potential replacements for Marcus Rashford as PSG eye Man Utd man; €175m superstar, classy Prem winger…

Ryan Baldi
Man Utd are admirers of Rafael Leao, Michael Olise and Donyell Malen

Man Utd are admirers of Rafael Leao, Michael Olise and Donyell Malen

All season long, Marcus Rashford’s body language, on-pitch demeanour and productivity have been analysed and poured over amid suspicions the Manchester United superstar is no longer happy at his boyhood club. 

Now, with Kylian Mbappe in line for a summer switch to Real Madrid, the prospect of an Old Trafford exit for Rashford has been raised, with Paris Saint-Germain reportedly identifying the England forward as their top choice to replace their outgoing World Cup winner.

Rashford has scored just seven Premier League goals in 27 appearances this season, a marked regression from the career-best return of 17 from 33 games last term. United resisted PSG’s previous interest in the 26-year-old two years ago and signed their academy-bred attacker to a bumper new contract.

Now, though, the Red Devils are said to have named their price for Rashford – an offer £100 million could convince them to sell. 

If Rashford is to leave United this summer, here are five players the 20-time champions could target as his replacement.

Rafael Leao

The most obvious like-for-like Rashford replacement United could turn to is AC Milan’s Rafael Leao.

The 24-year-old Portugal international matches the Three Lions attacker for pace, skill in confined areas and a rasping right-footed shot. He also prefers to operate from the left wing, too, cutting on to his stronger side to threaten goal or attack the byline and create chances for team-mates with low cut-backs. So far, so very familiar.

But comparing their current form, Leao might even be an upgrade on Rashford. Despite his scoring output in Serie A falling this term, per FBref.com Leao ranks in the 89th percentile among attacking midfielders and wingers in Europe’s top five leagues over the past year when it comes to non-penalty goals per 90 minutes, the 91st percentile for assists, the 89th percentile for progressive carries and the 86th percentile for successful take-ons – all better than Rashford.

The main drawback to any potential pursuit of Leao, however, is the cost. The former Sporting CP and Lille winger has a €175 million release clause in his current contract, which Milan will reportedly demand in full.

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Donyell Malen 

As reports emerged of Borussia Dortmund’s interest in re-signing Jadon Sancho in January, there were rumours that United could line up a swap deal with the Bundesliga side – sending their outcast winger back to Germany in return for Malen.

That might not have been an especially enticing prospect for United fans at the time, but Malen’s recent productivity could make a Sancho swap a lot more desirable – by mid-January, the former PSV winger had scored just five Bundesliga goals; since then, he has hit seven in his last eight games.

Although he most often features on the right side of Dortmund’s attack, Malen has the versatility to play anywhere across the frontline.

His recent form is by far the best the 28-cap Netherlands international has produced since his moving to Signal Iduna Park in 2021. This uptick has not necessarily put Dortmund off the idea of parting ways with Malen, though, with reports suggesting the 25-year-old could still be used as a makeweight in a deal to make Sancho’s BVB return permanent.

Michael Olise 

Irrespective of Rashford’s potential exit, Crystal Palace winger Olise is set to be one of Manchester United’s top transfer targets this summer.

The club’s new part-owner, Sir Jim Radcliffe, and his INEOS sporting department – who have assumed control of football matters at Old Trafford – are believed to have sanctioned a £60 million swoop for the London-born France under-21 star.

Injuries have limited Olise to just eight Premier League starts so far this season, but still he has showcased his immense talents as both scorer and creator, netting six goals and providing three assists.

A skilful left-footed right winger with an electric burst of speed and a powerful shot, Olise is stylistically similar to Rashford except for the fact he plays on the opposite flank to the United man.

But the malleability of Erik ten Hag’s other attacking options would allow for Olise to step into Rashford’s starting berth at Old Trafford, with Alejandro Garnacho taking up residence on the left side.

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Pedro Neto

Already a top target for Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham, United are said to have entered the running to sign gifted Wolves forward Neto.

The 24-year-old Portugal star is a less like-for-like Rashford equivalent than other potential targets, as he, like Olise, is a left-footer who prefers to play on the right side of attack.

But when it comes to creativity, few players in the Premier League can match Neto’s output – indeed, only Kieran Trippier, Ollie Watkins and Pascal Gross have provided more assists than the Molineux man’s nine so far this term.

As TEAMtalk exclusively revealed earlier this week, Wolves have set a £60 million asking price for Neto.

Nico Williams

Still just 21 years old, Williams already has three full seasons under his belt as a regular starter in La Liga with Athletic Bilbao, plus 11 senior caps for Spain.

And within that body of work, there has been ample evidence to convince several Premier League clubs to prepare summer moves for the Basque winger.

Reportedly a target for Chelsea, Tottenham and Aston Villa, Williams is enjoying his best season to date in 2023-24, with six goals and 12 assists in 28 appearances for Ernesto Valverde’s side.

A lightning-fast winger who, like Rashford, likes to cut in from the left on to his stronger right foot, Williams can also play on the right and is more creator than scorer. A £43 million release clause would make him an attractive option for a post-Rashford United.

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