Real Madrid have adapted to the new times. While once upon a time they could cherry-pick their favourite players from the football market, using whatever financial force necessary, Los Blancos are no longer the biggest in the playground.
As the Premier League finances continue to grow, in particular as the richest owners continue to spend, Real Madrid can no longer extract whomever they want and offer the highest wages. As was seen in the Kylian Mbappe saga last summer, Paris Saint-Germain were able to outbid them.
For several years now, a clear strategy has emerged for Florentino Perez. With the exception of the seasons interrupted by the pandemic, each season or two Real Madrid have looked to bring in a major star, while picking off the biggest stars in free agency.
Mbappe was meant to be that star last summer, although it ended up being Aurelien Tchouameni. Previous to the pandemic, Eden Hazard was made the most expensive signing in the club’s history. In the meantime, David Alaba and Antonio Rudiger have both arrived from major European rivals on free deals in consecutive summers.
The next could be Marcus Rashford. The Manchester United forward is free to negotiate in January and his contract expires in the summer, as per Fichajes.net. Manchester United are working to extend his contract and do have an option to add an extra year onto his deal, as per The Mirror. That may put a spanner in Perez’s works.
Should they neglect to do so, he would appear to fit many of Los Blancos requirements. At just 24, Rashford will likely sign a contract extending into his prime years, regardless of where it is.
Versatile, quick and capable of beating a defender, he could play anywhere across the front three that Carlo Ancelotti likes to use, although he would likely be less inclined to operate from the right.
As Real Madrid weigh up whether to look for a back-up or replacement for Karim Benzema, who has struggled with injury this season, Rashford might represent a nice halfway house.
Capable of competing with Rodrygo Goes and Fede Valverde on the right, he could also move into the centre in case of Benzema’s absence. With room to grow, if Rashford flourishes, it may be that he becomes the eventual replacement for Benzema. Rashford’s style, which involves far more running in behind the defence, would represent an alternative to what Carlo Ancelotti already has at his disposal.
Working against Real Madrid is the competition. While Rashford has not always been a starter at Old Trafford, he may well fancy his chances of earning a place under Erik ten Hag more than at the Santiago Bernabeu. Valverde has been in excellent form this season and Rodrygo has been close behind him, meaning Rashford might not see where his minutes are coming from.
With Vinicius Junior locked in on the left side, it is not clear whether he would be content backing up Benzema.
Ultimately, Manchester United’s option to extend his deal seems most likely to scupper any Real Madrid hopes of bringing him to the club. Rashford fits the bill for Florentino Perez, the question would then be whether Real Madrid can offer Rashford what he is looking for at an important stage in his career.