Manchester United’s Champions League quarter-final opponents have emerged as surprise contenders for Marcus Rashford’s signature, but bookmakers don’t believe Englishman will move to the Barcelona this summer.
United travel to the Catalan giants on Tuesday evening and will attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit having lost the opening leg of the tie in Old Trafford last week.
At 1/16 (-1600) to advance through to the semi-final stage, Barcelona are fully expected to avoid a Champions League exit, and reports suggest they may use the second leg to take a closer look at United starlet Rashford.
Barcelona are keen to find a replacement for the ageing Luis Suarez but have already committed a large portion of their summer transfer budget towards the confirmed signing of Frenkie De Jong from Ajax.
The €100m buy-out clause for Antoine Griezmann – a logical like-for-like replacement for Suarez – therefore appears to be outside their financial capabilities, unless they can somehow recoup much of the £142m they splashed on Philippe Coutinho, who has failed to impress since making the move from Liverpool.
That all leads to the talented Rashford emerging as a younger, potentially much cheaper alternative, with the 21-year-old having just one full season left on his current United deal.
Although The Mirror report a mooted but speculative fee of £100m to prise Rashford away from Old Trafford this summer, in theory Barcelona could play a patient game and wait until summer 2020 when the England international could be available for free if United fail to extend his contract.
That is perhaps why online bookmakers Betway make Rashford odds-on at 2/5 (-250) to still be a United player by the beginning of next season, although Barcelona’s chances of signing him this summer have come in to 3/1 (+300).
“Manchester United have, as things stand, failed to tie down Marcus Rashford to a new long-term deal and if talks continue to stall, he’ll have his fair share of pursuers,” said Betway’s Alan Alger.
“He’s currently 3/1 to join Barcelona, but a quality performance against them this evening would surely confirm their suspicions that he’s the ideal long-term candidate to replace Luis Suarez and would shorten the odds on the Englishman moving to Spain.”
At 32, Suarez’s best days are thought to be behind him, despite scoring 23 goals in 43 games this season.
That said, he has failed to score in his seven games at the highest level – the Champions League – with 20 of those goals coming in La Liga, with Barcelona easing to another title defence this season, while the other three have come in the Copa del Rey.