Erik ten Hag believes Marcus Rashford is in the “best place” to realize his ambitions as the Manchester United boss looks to construct a squad capable of conquering England and Europe.
The Old Trafford giants are synonymous with silverware but have won just three major trophies since Sir Alex Ferguson bowed out as Premier League champions in 2013.
United have flown for most of that time and are in the midst of their worst trophy drought for 40 years, having failed to land silverware since lifting the Europa League in 2017.
But there is a sense of positivity and progress under summer appointment Ten Hag as they prepare for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final at Nottingham Forest.
A rejuvenated Rashford has been key to that upturn in fortunes and talks are underway over a new deal, with the home-grown star’s current contract set to expire in 18 months.
“It is confidential about conversations between clubs and players,” Ten Hag said. “I think he understands that Man United is his club. It’s first.
“But also in this environment, in this team, I think he’s playing his best football. He’s improving and it’s about him because he’s working on the good things.
“He gives 100 percent energy in it, he has a good plan, and I also believe in this team that he can bring in his qualities.
“So this team can help him get into the right position and score goals, which is what he’s good at.
“This team is constructed in such a way that his qualities come in and I think he knows that, but definitely, yes, he is important for us.
“If we want to have the success we want, we need him.”
Rashford has scored 17 goals in all competitions for United this season and shone for England at the World Cup as Paris St. Germain publicly confirmed their interest in him.
“I hope all our players get interest from the clubs because it means we are doing a good job, the team is excelling, so that is what we are aiming for,” said Ten Hag.
“So I would say this is the best place to be because we want to build the best team, first in England and then in Europe and then in the world.”
Rashford has a key role to play as United continue to struggle on four fronts with an attack that lacks depth and often finds itself without Anthony Martial.
The French international has had an injury-disrupted season and, along with Jadon Sancho and Diogo Dalot, will be sidelined for the trip to Forest.
Ten Hag says “bad luck” has a role to play in Martial’s frequent absences, but says “he needs to be more available” if the team is to flourish.
“When he’s there, he’s really important for us because we play our best football when he’s available,” he said. “He must also be aware of that. So if you want to be successful, we need him.”
Casemiro returns to the squad after being suspended for Sunday’s 3-2 loss at Arsenal, with fellow Brazilian Antony withdrawn in the second half.
The winger is yet to hit his stride since his big summer move from Ajax, and the 22-year-old said on Tuesday that he is “looking to develop to give my best to the team”.
“I think he doesn’t lose games,” Ten Hag said of a player he knows better than most.
“When he plays, the team wins and that already sends a message, I think, how well he is performing.
“He can do better. I see room for improvement. For example, we want him to be more direct, be more involved.
“But, what I said, the team performs better if he’s on the pitch and that’s a good thing. It’s a good base to build on.
“I think he has already improved. He scored some goals – in his first three games he scored three goals, now he is scoring against Everton and Charlton.
“He has an impact, but I think with his skills, with his talents, he can do even more.”