Rashford Is One Of The World's Best But A Ballon D'Or Is Still A Long Way Off

The Manchester United forward has equalled his career-best tally of 22 goals
12:17, 17 Feb 2023

Marcus Rashford is unstoppable right now. The Manchester United star netted his 22nd goal of the season in his side’s 2-2 draw at Barcelona in their Europa League round of 16 first leg on Thursday.

The versatile forward has now equalled his best ever tally in a campaign, which he recorded back in 2019-20. With a few months left to smash his record by some distance, the 25-year-old's form suggests he will beat his previous mark by a long way. The youngster who was thrust into the senior picture so suddenly in 2016 has had his issues living up to the weight of expectation on his shoulders and he has suffered from inconsistency, which hasn’t been helped by the several managerial changes and the issues behind the scenes at Old Trafford.

Rashford has never shied away from being honest about his mental health struggles when things haven’t been going well for him on the pitch. And right now he is thriving and has taken his game to the sport of level we haven’t seen from him before.


After another outstanding performance for United, many people have been calling him the best player in the world right now and it is hard to disagree. Some have even posed questions about his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or, but regardless of how dazzling Rashford is on the pitch, it takes a lot more to collect the biggest individual prize in football.

Over the past 14 years, the prestigious France Football award has been dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who have collected seven and five golden balls respectively. And while the two superstars were mesmerising on the pitch contributing goals and assists on a consistent basis, they were also winning the biggest trophies on offer in Champions Leagues and league titles.

Only Real Madrid duo Luka Modric and Karim Benzema have managed to win the award during this period. Modric’s extraordinary 2018 World Cup run to the final with Croatia was seen as the deciding factor in him being crowned as the Ballon d’Or recipient, but it was also helped by him helping Los Blancos to pick up their third consecutive Champions League title. As for Benzema, he played a huge part in Real Madrid winning both La Liga and the Champions League in 2021-22, scoring 44 goals in 46 games in all competitions. The French striker was the first person to win the Ballon d’Or based upon a season rather than a calendar year.

It doesn’t matter how well Rashford is performing individually for Manchester United. If the team are not winning major pieces of silverware, his chances of being in contention for the Ballon d’Or are slim. Hope is not lost, however. Manchester United have already made their way to their first domestic final since 2018 as they prepare to face Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup final next weekend, and Erik ten Hag’s men are only five points off the pace in the race for the Premier League, a trophy they haven’t won for a decade.

They are also still competing in the FA Cup with a fifth-round fixture against West Ham United coming up in the next few weeks. If United can get their hands on one or two domestic trophies this year, Rashford’s Ballon d’Or claim would become a bit more credible, but without a league title he will find it difficult to challenge against high-performing players who win their respective leagues or who are crowned as the champions of Europe.

After a difficult year both individually and collectively in 2021-22, Ten Hag has quickly helped Rashford rediscover his confidence. And the forward will be driven to continue his explosive form to help transform the Red Devils back into a dominant domestic force while also looking to cement his place back in the England team after being largely reduced to a substitute role during the World Cup.

Since football resumed after the tournament in Qatar, Rashford has scored 14 goals in 16 appearances and you would have to believe he is currently nailed for a starting place for the Three Lions during the next international break in March.

Rashford is about to enter what is traditionally known as the ‘peak years’ of a player's career. If he can keep up this momentum in the seasons to come, while United continue to evolve under Ten Hag and compete for the biggest trophies around, Rashford could be on the pathway to winning the Ballon d’Or later down the line. He’s certainly doing what is necessary on an individual level to put his name in the conversation, and you feel that he is only going to get better under the guidance of Ten Hag, which will only boost his chances for the glamorous prize.

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