As weekends go, Marcus Rashford’s could not have gone better. The Manchester schoolboy, who is taking his A-Levels this summer, netted twice for Manchester United, as the Red Devils beat bitter rivals Arsenal 3-2.
Rashford must have felt like a EuroMillions winner when he was informed by United skipper, Louis van Gaal, that not only was in the squad for the weekend’s clash, but he was also the club’s centre forward.
Aside from the fact this is the big break any young footballer desperately wants, it’s also the start of his journey towards six-figure weekly salaries.
It wasn’t long after the team announcements were made that Rashford’s salary was doing the rounds on social media, which turned out to be an almost modest – at least by football standards – £500 a week.
It’s hard to say what is more surprising in the world of football: the fact that Arsenal’s defence would concede not one, but two goals to an untested teenager, or the fact that the man leading the Manchester United line is earning £500 a week.
Of course that is more than most 18 year olds would dream of, but compare that to United’s other striker, the mercurial Wayne Rooney – who takes home £300,000 a week – it’s quite a disparity. So, just how, and why, do player’s wages rise?
As celebrated football commentator James Richardson quipped about Rashford, “not even his own family had heard of him at this point.”
As an academy player with no first team experience, you’re not going to be earning the big bucks, even if you are at Manchester United. Although scoring two goals against Arsenal would undoubtedly have his agent knocking on Ed Woodward’s door the following Monday.
As it happens, a few days afterwards, the club announced he would be rewarded with a bumper new deal of… £20,000 a week. Going to show just what a difference 90 minutes can make for a footballer.
As with any industry, seniority and superiority are the driving factors in salaries. As a player rises through the academy ranks to the B teams, and then first team, their salary will progress naturally, in line with the stature of a club. It goes without saying that the star of an Argentinian side won’t earn as much as a fringe player in the Premier League, because of their respective club’s stature differences, and the overall money in the leagues, through factors such as sponsorship and endorsement deals.
The other major factor is the player’s position within the club, a defensive stalwart with a decade at the club may be a fans’ favourite, but they won’t take home the headline salaries, that the likes of Rooney, Ronaldo and Messi do.
It would be safe to assume that United’s Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett, who made similar surprise appearances in the squad, except in defence, did not receive such staggering amounts after their first 90 minutes.
It seems like Rashford is well on his way to matching the Premier League’s average weekly salary, which currently sits at £44,000. Not bad for someone who is still grappling with hectic revision timetables, and who, until recently, was most noted for his performances in the Under-19 UEFA Youth League.