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Marcus Rashford should focus on football instead of “thinking he’s a politician”, according to former Manchester United defender Paul Parker.
Rashford has received widespread praise for using his platform to promote positive change in society, with the England international awarded an MBE last month for his campaign to support vulnerable children during the coronavirus pandemic.
While he has won plaudits for his efforts off the pitch, Rashford has faced criticism for his performances on it.
After missing the start of the season through injury, Rashford has managed only three goals in 12 appearances – with Cristiano Ronaldo largely preferred up front.
Parker has suggested that Rashford’s campaign work could be affecting his form.
Assessing United's current style of play under interim boss Ralf Rangnick, Parker told bettingexpert.com: “Manchester United are playing a system, which is very narrow, for which they haven’t really got the personnel to play.
“Too many wide players are being asked to tuck in and start inside and then go outside.
“Look at the likes of [Jadon] Sancho, [Mason] Greenwood, and Rashford.
“If he [Rashford] can wake up and remember he’s a footballer rather than thinking he’s a politician, then it might work.”
Rashford has been linked with a move to Barcelona in January, with the Catalan club keen to sign a new striker following Sergio Aguero’s retirement.
Rashford reportedly came close to joining Barcelona in 2018 before signing a new deal at Old Trafford.
Barcelona are seventh in La Liga and Parker insists the Nou Camp club would not be looking to sign Rashford if they were at their normal level near the top of the table.
“There’s rumours about Barcelona, because at the moment Barcelona ain’t very good. If Barcelona were very good, Marcus Rashford wouldn’t be mentioned,” added Parker.
“To be perfectly honest, the levels of the players they’re looking at, or are being talked about, are levels you never put with Barcelona. It’s as simple as that.
“When you look at Marcus Rashford’s form over the last 2 seasons, you would say to yourself ‘uff, wow’.
“You know he’s been poor and you say to yourself – 'Barcelona couldn’t have just maybe been watching him.'
“If they’d been watching him, I don’t know what levels they’re looking at but maybe they think they might be able to do something with, rather than where he is at this moment in time.
“If you ask a lot of fans, they will say that he shouldn’t be playing regularly at this moment in time.
“He should be working hard to get back to what he was. He hasn’t evolved at all in his last couple of seasons. He’s plateaued at the moment in time and he’s holding back Mason Greenwood.”