10 moments that convinced Man Utd to hand Marcus Rashford a bumper new contract

Marcus Rashford GFX
The England striker has become United's top earner after enjoying the best season of his life just one year after his future was in doubt

Marcus Rashford has just signed a five-year contract with Manchester United which makes him the club's highest paid player. And after the season he has just had, no one could begrudge him that status. The striker has staged an unbelievable individual comeback compared to where he was just a year ago, when his future at the club where he had spent his entire career was in serious doubt.

Rashford had fallen out of favour with interim manager Ralf Rangnick and had spent most of the season on the bench. He finished a dismal campaign for both him and his club with a measly five goals in all competitions.

What a difference a year makes. Rashford enjoyed the best season of his seven-year career in 2022-23, scoring 30 goals in all competitions. He fired United to a third-place finish in the Premier League, securing a swift return to the Champions League, and led them to win the Carabao Cup, while also reaching the FA Cup final and the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

And so as United celebrate agreeing a long-term contract with their favourite son, GOAL takes a look at the key moments that convinced the club to give Rashford the new deal and make him their best-paid player...

  1. Putting in the work last summer

    Putting in the work last summer

    Rashford began his road to recovery in the summer of 2022. He had just endured a nightmarish 12 months which included missing his spot-kick in England's penalty-shootout defeat to Italy in the European Championship final and the shameful racist abuse that followed. He had also undergone back surgery and then struggled to reclaim a regular place in the United line up while being repeatedly left out of the England squad.

    While many of his team-mates were enjoying their summer breaks last year, he headed to Nike's headquarters in Oregon for an intense training plan, working with a team of fitness coaches and sports scientists. He worked on his explosiveness, practising sprints on an elevated 200-metre track and running with bungee cords strapped to his back. The hard work he put in before the season paid off handsomely.

  2. Regaining confidence against Liverpool
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    Regaining confidence against Liverpool

    Rashford had not scored a goal for club or country for seven months in August, but in the third game of the season against Liverpool, he showcased his new physical prowess and renewed confidence. The striker scored the all-important second goal in the 2-1 win, sprinting in behind Joe Gomez to latch on to an Anthony Martial pass and taking one touch before burying the ball into the net.

    It was far from the best goal Rashford has scored, but it was a sign he was back and meant business. The strike also clinched a badly-needed victory for United over the old enemy after they had made a disastrous start to the campaign with twin losses to Brighton and Brentford.

  3. The towering header against West Ham

    The towering header against West Ham

    There was no doubt about Rashford's ability to run in behind defences, but in a tricky fixture against West Ham at the end of October, he showed he had all the attributes of a traditional striker too. He neted a towering header to score the only goal of the game, flying off the floor to beat Thilo Kehrer in the air and send Christian Eriksen's floated cross crashing high into the net.

    With United lacking a proper centre-forward for much of the season, Rashford's ability to get in the box and score headers proved valuable as they eventually finished third in the Premier League.

  4. The slalom run against Burnley

    The slalom run against Burnley

    In the first game back after the World Cup, Rashford did his best Diego Maradona impression and scored one of his finest ever goals. He picked up the ball deep in his own half and accelerated down the right wing, never looking back.

    His speed scared the lights out of the Burnley defenders and as he approached the area he danced past two of them before arrowing the ball into the far corner. The goal had shades of Ryan Giggs' solo goal against Arsenal in 1999 and demonstrated that Rashford had all the capabilities to be one of the best players in the world.

    It was also the beginning of an incredible streak of form for Rashford, who scored eight goals in a run of seven matches between December and January.

  5. Making amends for sleeping in at Wolves
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    Making amends for sleeping in at Wolves

    In a rare lapse in preparation, Rashford overslept on the morning of United's trip to Wolves and was late to a team meeting. Erik ten Hag dropped him from the starting line up in a demonstration that no one was above the rules, but after a slack first half, the manager called upon his new talisman, taking him off the naughty step and on to the pitch.

    Rashford soon compensated for his disciplinary lapse by winning the match with another tremendous solo strike. Attacking down the left, he exchanged a pass with Bruno Fernandes before using a combination of nifty footwork and impressive physical strength to beat three Wolves defenders and score.

    Ten Hag embraced Rashford at full-time and all was forgiven and forgotten. And it was now clearer than ever that Rashford was the team's new talisman and ultimately undroppable, even after missing his alarm.

  6. Leading the fightback against City

    Leading the fightback against City

    United had been thrashed 6-3 in their previous game against Manchester City and they were fired up for the return fixture at Old Trafford in January. After Jack Grealish had given City the lead against the run of play, Rashford, of course, led the fightback.

    He shielded the ball for Bruno Fernandes to score United's controversial equaliser when he realised, in the nick of time, that he was in an offside position. And then he netted the winner, once more proving the difference in a crunch match.

  7. Running rings around Barcelona

    Running rings around Barcelona

    Many brilliant players have frozen at the home of Barcelona, but when he stepped out onto one of the biggest stages of world football in the Europa League play-off first leg, Rashford played as if he owned Camp Nou.

    After causing havoc in the first half but without scoring, Rashford pulled United level in the second half with a darting run into the area and thumping finish inside the near post from a tight angle.

    And a few minutes later, he ripped into Barca again down the right wing to give them the lead, his cross being bundled into the net by Jules Kounde. Barca eventually equalised and the game ended 2-2, but United had produced an impressive performance at the home one of the best teams in Europe, and Rashford was their outstanding player.

  8. Sharpshooting against Leicester
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    Sharpshooting against Leicester

    Rashford scored twice in two Premier League matches last season, against Arsenal and Leicester. And when United hosted the Foxes in February, Rashford was at the top of his game, delivering two classy finishes in a game his side had been struggling in.

    Two David de Gea wonder saves had kept Leicester at bay, and United scored with practically their first chance, Rashford nipping in behind to reach Bruno Fernandes' pass and lashing the ball home.

    His second goal was another perfectly-timed run in behind the defence, scoring with his third touch. The flag went up for offside, but Rashford knew he was onside and he was vindicated by the VAR review.

  9. Firing United to their first trophy in six years

    Firing United to their first trophy in six years

    Rashford was in insatiable form heading into the Carabao Cup final, and it was only fitting that he scored as United ended a six-year trophy drought by beating Newcastle at Wembley.

    Casemiro had given United the lead, but a one-goal lead against the fired-up Magpies was only a slender advantage, and Rashford put Ten Hag's side further at ease five minutes before half-time.

    He may have got a bit of fortune with the heavy deflection off Sven Botman, but he was always United's biggest threat and his pace kept Newcastle on edge all afternoon as the Red Devils saw out a 2-0 win and finally got their hands on some silverware again.

  10. Taking on the government... and winning

    Taking on the government... and winning

    Rashford was already a hero to Manchester United fans in 2020, but during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown he endeared himself to the entire nation by campaigning for the extension of free school meals during the holidays.

    Having grown up relying on free school meals and breakfast clubs and revealing how long he would have to go without food as a child, Rashford was the perfect voice to take on the government, and after some resistance, he eventually forced then Prime Minister Boris Johnson into a U-turn.

    Since then, Rashford has been a national treasure and, even when he experienced his dip in form last year, United cherished him. Coupled with his return to form, there was no way they were going to let go of such an important asset on and off the pitch.