Cristiano Ronaldo once again scored a late winner as Manchester United overturned a two-goal deficit against Atalanta to win 3-2 and move top of Champions League Group F at the halfway point.

Mario Pasalic broke the deadlock after just 15 minutes at Old Trafford, with Merih Demiral heading home to double the blow before the half-hour mark on Wednesday.

Marcus Rashford pulled one back after the break as he scored the 300th goal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's tenure before Harry Maguire levelled with 15 minutes of normal time remaining.

Ronaldo, who scored a stoppage-time winner against Villarreal, then climbed the highest to cap a memorable comeback and move the Red Devils to the summit.

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came out swinging as he hit out at the media for the coverage and interpretation of his recent comments about Marcus Rashford.

England international Rashford made his first appearance of the season in the 4-2 weekend defeat to Leicester City, scoring one of United's goals.

But in his pre-match news conference on Friday, Solskjaer appeared to pedal a trope that was used to undermine Rashford's charitable efforts during the coronavirus pandemic by certain sections of society, urging him to "prioritise" football.

Solskjaer said: "You know what he has done off the pitch as well, because he has done some fantastic things, and now to prioritise, maybe prioritise his football and focus on football because he's got a challenge on his hands here at Manchester United, he has a challenge on his hands to play for England."

Many considered Solskjaer's comments to be a veiled criticism of Rashford's off-the-pitch endeavours, which helped raise enough money for the FareShare charity to distribute the equivalent of more than 21 million meals to struggling children and families.

His continued efforts saw him honoured as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) and he also became the youngest ever recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Manchester.

Media speculation suggested Rashford and his entourage were annoyed by Solskjaer's comments last week, and ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Atalanta, the Norwegian addressed the "elephant in the room" immediately with the 23-year-old sat next to him.

"We are so unbelievably proud of what Marcus has done off the pitch," he began.

"You [journalists] know what was said and you made headlines out of one little comment that I never intended to be the focus.

"I was speaking about Marcus and how it must be nice for the boy to be going into training not focusing on his shoulder or ankle or his back, and I think you know that. Now he can just enjoy his football.

"So, no questions on that, I just wanted to start with that one."

Media speculation suggested Rashford and his entourage were annoyed by Solskjaer's comments last week, and ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Atalanta, the Norwegian addressed the "elephant in the room" immediately with the 23-year-old sat next to him.

"We are so unbelievably proud of what Marcus has done off the pitch," he began.

"You [journalists] know what was said and you made headlines out of one little comment that I never intended to be the focus.

"I was speaking about Marcus and how it must be nice for the boy to be going into training not focusing on his shoulder or ankle or his back, and I think you know that. Now he can just enjoy his football.

"So, no questions on that, I just wanted to start with that one."

The awkward headlines came at a particularly troubling time for United and Solskjaer as they have endured an underwhelming start to 2021-22 that has comprised of just five wins in 11 matches across all competitions.

Solskjaer is under increasing pressure with performances leaving a lot to be desired, and his job security was a key subject during Tuesday's news conference.

But he mostly cut a calm figure as he faced the tough questions.

"It doesn't affect me but of course you see some of the comments," he said when asked about Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher's assessment United should have a better manager than Solskjaer.

"We've got Liverpool on Sunday as well, so Jamie is always looking at these little things.

"I've got my values, my way of managing, I believe in myself. As long as the club believes in me, I'm pretty sure Jamie Carragher's opinion isn't going to change that.

"We've progressed over the years. Since I was here for half a season, we've finished third, second – you could see progress, development.

"This season we still want to improve. We signed players who raised expectations.

"There's pressure on me of course, but we've come through this before stronger as individuals and as a team.

"I'm in dialogue with the club all the time, so that's an open and honest discussion all the time."

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants star forward Marcus Rashford to focus on football following his recovery from a shoulder injury.

Rashford underwent shoulder surgery in August and is in line to make his first appearance of the season when United visit Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday.

The 23-year-old England international has been hailed for his off-field work, awarded an MBE in his campaign to end child poverty.

But Solskjaer urged Rashford to prioritise his football career moving forward.

"I know that we will see the best of Marcus in the years to come," Solskjaer told reporters. "He has done remarkable things at a young age but he is now coming into the best age for a footballer and he is more experienced.

"He has [had] time to reflect. You know what he has done off the pitch as well, because he has done some fantastic things, and now to prioritise, maybe prioritise his football and focus on football because he's got a challenge on his hands here at Manchester United, he has a challenge on his hands to play for England.

"I think Marcus is one of those who takes up those challenges and is going to.

"He is going to express himself and his talent and he knows that we want a lot from him but we are going to give him the time to get back to what he was and what he can be."

United – fourth in the Premier League and two points off the pace – are looking to extend their record unbeaten away run in the league to 30 games (W19 D10).

The Red Devils have not conceded more than once in any of their last 15 on the road (seven conceded in total) – their longest such run in league football.

United have the player with the most overall chances created (Bruno Fernandes, 23), the most chances created from set plays (Luke Shaw, 11) and the most assists (Paul Pogba, seven) in the Premier League so far this season.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defended his decision to bench Cristiano Ronaldo before the international break, adamant he is trying to learn from his own mistake of overexerting his players.

Ronaldo was surprisingly named among the substitutes as United could only draw 1-1 with Everton in their most recent Premier League match.

United produced a disappointing performance as they were left with just two wins from their past seven home games in the league.

Ronaldo came on in the second half to make his 200th top-flight appearance for United, becoming only the fifth player since 2003 to reach that milestone in two of Europe's big five leagues.

The Portugal star looked furious as he walked down the tunnel after that match and a video posted by Mixed Martial Arts star Khabib Nurmagomedov – who was a guest of the club – showed Alex Ferguson questioning Solskjaer's decision to rest Ronaldo in a conversation with him.

But while Solskjaer says he would like to play Ronaldo – who scored four goals in two games for Portugal over the past couple of weeks – as much as possible, he insists he is looking out for United's collective conditioning in the long term.

"He's an exceptional player, finisher, goalscorer and professional," Solskjaer told reporters ahead of Saturday's clash with Leicester City.

"It's hard to leave him out and everyone would love to play six games [in a row] and play the same XI, it's great, but it's rotation [they need].

"We need to get to May with everyone firing. We got to May and the final stretch last season and we were a little tired.

"I'm the manager, I manage for the club, but of course it's nice to have him on the pitch because he'll always come up with the goods, and the more we have him on the pitch, the better."

While many will expect Ronaldo to start at the King Power Stadium, he could potentially be joined in attack by Marcus Rashford for the first time.

England international Rashford has not played since Euro 2020 after undergoing surgery on a persistent shoulder injury in August.

Solskjaer confirmed the forward will be in the squad on Saturday and did not rule out him starting, though the game will come slightly too soon for captain Harry Maguire.

"[Rashford] is in the squad, yes. If he's starting or not, I can't tell you because it wouldn't be right, but he's been really bright this week.

"He had a 60-minute involvement in a behind-closed-doors friendly last week, so he's fit and raring to go.

"Harry's just joined us on the grass this morning, so that was the first time he's been on the grass."

Fellow England international Jesse Lingard has been the subject of significant speculation in recent months after a blistering loan spell with West Ham last season.

His contract expires at the end of the season and he has been linked with numerous clubs, including Barcelona, though Solskjaer was unequivocal in his desire to keep Lingard at Old Trafford.

"Jesse's had a good start to the season, come on and scored a few goals," Solskjaer said. "He's been important for us.

"We want to prolong his contract; we see him as an important player. It's up to him to get more playing time, and maybe it's up to me giving him more playing time because he deserves to [play], but I always have to leave players out.

"Hopefully we can get a deal sorted for Jesse, because we really rate him and value him around the club. He's a top player and a top person."

Marcus Rashford is thrilled to have Cristiano Ronaldo back at Old Trafford and is hoping the superstar forward can provide "a push" for Manchester United to win trophies.

The Portugal forward made a sensational return to the red half of Manchester on deadline day this year and has since scored five goals in just six appearances across all competitions – the most of any player at the club.

The 36-year-old has done so despite ranking third at United this season for total shots (23), recording the best conversion rate (21.74 per cent) of any player at the club who has taken at least eight shots.

Ronaldo's finishing and ability to find dangerous positions clearly remain at an elite level, with the forward slightly outperforming his expected goals total of 4.27 – the highest mark of any United player by some distance, with Bruno Fernandes second on 2.44.

Without Ronaldo, United last earned silverware in 2017, collecting an EFL Cup and Europa League double under Jose Mourinho, and have not won the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013.

Rashford, however, believes having five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo back could be the catalyst the club needs in their pursuit of success.

"[Having Ronaldo back at the club is] a great feeling for me as a player, but also as a fan of the club as well," Rashford told BBC Breakfast.

"It's always nice when a club legend finds a way back to the club. To be playing with him back at Old Trafford is a terrific feeling and hopefully gives us a push to start winning more trophies."

Rashford has not played for club or country since England's penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy in the final of Euro 2020 due to a shoulder injury.

The Three Lions star missed just four matches for United in 2020-21, making 57 appearances across all competitions in which he scored 21 goals and assisted 12.

Among outfield players in Europe's top five leagues, Rashford's 4,153 minutes were the 16th-most last season, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka (4,707) top of that list.

In the forward's five full seasons as a senior United player, Rashford made 253 appearances, second only to Manchester City's Bernardo Silva (255) in that time.

The 23-year-old – who was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester due to his campaign against child poverty – returned to full training at the start of October and is hoping to be back in action sooner rather than later.

"My recovery is I wouldn't say coming to an end, because obviously I have to keep looking after it, but I'm in a much better place physically and mentally," Rashford added.

"Last year was a very long season for me, I got this injury at the end of September, and gradually it got that little bit worse, but now I'm fully free of that, I feel much better physically and mentally."

Marcus Rashford is "raring to go" as he closes on a return to action with Manchester United, according to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Rashford had surgery on a long-standing shoulder injury in July and so has not played for club or country since missing a penalty against Italy for England in the Euro 2020 final.

The striker may be back in the fold after the coming international break, though, when United visit Leicester City.

Amad Diallo has also been out with a thigh issue, which put paid to a planned loan move to Feyenoord.

"[Rashford and Amad] are still a few weeks away, so hopefully after the international break they could be available," Solskjaer told United's official website.

United have played eight games without Rashford so far this term ahead of Wednesday's meeting with Villarreal, where Aaron Wan-Bissaka will miss the first of two matches through suspension – his punishment increased due to "rough play" as he was sent off against Young Boys.

Rashford missed just four United games in the whole of last season as he scored 21 goals and assisted a further 12 in 57 appearances in all competitions.

Among outfield players in Europe's top five leagues, the England man's 4,153 minutes ranked 16th in 2020-21. Wan-Bissaka (4,707) led that list.

Going back further, across his five full seasons as a senior United star, Rashford played 253 times, behind only Manchester City's Bernardo Silva (255) in that period.

This sort of lay-off is unfamiliar to the forward, then, and he is not lacking motivation.

Solskjaer continued: "They're working hard, both of them positive, and it's been a long, long time for Marcus, of course – probably the longest he's been out, but he's needed it.

"He looks raring to go, happy, and he knows he's missed out on pre-season, but he's done loads of good conditioning work and should be ready soon."

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford hopes to be cleared to resume light contact training as he steps up his recovery from shoulder surgery.

The England international has not played for the Red Devils this season after undergoing an operation on a long-standing shoulder issue in July.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stated that he does not expect Rashford to be back in contention until after the international break next month.

Rashford provided an update with a Twitter post on Monday.

He posted: "Happy Monday. I see the doctor on Friday for a consultation. All being well, I will get the green to join in with contact training again."

Rashford then added: "*light* I suppose I was so happy to tell everybody I missed a word."

United suffered their first Premier League defeat of the season on Saturday, Bruno Fernandes blazing a late penalty over the crossbar in a 1-0 loss to Aston Villa at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer's side face Villarreal in the Champions League on Wednesday before a home clash with Everton next weekend, then travel to Leicester City on October 16 following the international break.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not expecting Marcus Rashford to return to action for Manchester United until after the next international break.

The England forward underwent an operation on a long-standing shoulder issue in July and has yet to feature for United this season.

Rashford was back in training at Carrington last month and was thought to be close to a return to the matchday squad, but Solskjaer will not rush back the 23-year-old.

Asked for a fitness update on Rashford and Alex Telles, who has been ruled out since injuring his ankle in pre-season, Solskjaer told MUTV: "Yeah, it's going well. 

"They've worked really hard, both of them. Alex is a bit further on than Marcus. I don't think we'll see Marcus until after the international break."

United have four more games before the second international break of the season and travel to Leicester City on their return to action on October 16.

While Rashford is made to wait for his return, Telles will be part of United's squad for Wednesday's EFL Cup third-round tie against West Ham, as will fellow defender Phil Jones following a 20-month injury absence.

It will be the second meeting between the sides in three days, with United snatching a dramatic 2-1 win at London Stadium in Sunday's Premier League clash.

United have lost their previous two EFL Cup matches at Old Trafford, both at the semi-final stage to Manchester City, but Solskjaer does not believe he will have a problem motivating his players.

"That will be easy," he said. "It's another game, the next game and, of course, after the win on Sunday, everyone is looking forward to the next one. 

"You do anyway, if you lose or you win but the spirit is good and it's a new challenge.

"It's strange how it works out and you meet the same team twice in three days. We need to give some minutes to a few, that's definite, and I think we've got a good squad. 

"Quite a few of these are champing at the bit to show what they can do."

One of those that may be given a chance to impress on Wednesday is teenage forward Anthony Elanga, who caught the eye during a couple of appearances for United in the league towards the end of 2020-21.

"Anthony was terrific in pre-season – his attitude, his enthusiasm, his directness," Solskjaer said. 

"I love to see players like this and, of course, he was disappointed not to travel down to West Ham but scored for the Under-23s, and now he's ready. He'll be involved in the squad."

United and West Ham are facing off in the EFL Cup for a fourth time, with the home team progressing in each of the previous three ties.

Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Manchester United was not just a shock to football fans. 

Those inside the game seemed in disbelief, too, but United players past and present were ecstatic at the news. 

News of Ronaldo's impending move from Juventus sparked an outpouring of joy on social media. 

Among the first to react was a man who apparently played a role in bringing Ronaldo back to Old Trafford, former skipper Rio Ferdinand. 

He was not alone, as another former Red Devils legend, Edwin van der Sar, also weighed in. 

But it was the current United players who seemed most pleased about Ronaldo's return.

Marcus Rashford has returned to training with Manchester United following successful shoulder surgery.

The England international missed the start of this season after recently undergoing an operation on the long-standing issue.

Despite his shoulder problem, Rashford was part of the Three Lions side that reached the Euro 2020 final, although he missed a penalty in the defeat by Italy at Wembley.

Just over six weeks later, the 22-year-old was back on the pitch at Carrington as he stepped up his recovery.

Although he is not expected to return to first-team action until October, Rashford took part in running exercises while also conducting ball work with the staff.

The academy graduate scored 21 goals in all competitions last season as United finished second in the Premier League and reached the Europa League final.

Upon his return, he will be eager to better that tally with the Red Devils desperate to dethrone rivals Manchester City in the title race.

United began the season with a 5-1 win over Leeds United at Old Trafford before drawing 1-1 away to Southampton.

Marcus Rashford revealed he is "a little sore" but "feeling good" after undergoing shoulder surgery that will see him miss the start of the 2021-22 season.

Manchester United confirmed Rashford would have to undergo an operation to resolve a longstanding issue with his left shoulder, having played through the pain for much of the previous campaign.

The England international – who was part of Gareth Southgate's squad for Euro 2020 – had the procedure last Friday. While his club have not made it clear how long he will be out, reports have suggested it could be a 12-week recovery process.

However, Rashford appeared in good spirits on Tuesday as he provided a fitness update on Twitter.

"Thank you for all the well wishes. I had my surgery on Friday morning and everything went very well," he wrote to accompany a picture of him relaxing in a chair with his feet up.

"A little sore but other than that I'm feeling good. Hope you're all having a great day!"

United open their Premier League campaign with a home game against Leeds United on Saturday.

Rashford scored 11 goals in the competition last term, helping Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad finish second to Manchester City. He also scored twice as the Red Devils made the Europa League final, albeit they missed out on securing the trophy when losing to Villarreal on penalties.

There was also shoot-out disappointment for the 23-year-old with his country in Euro 2020 too, Rashford one of three England players to miss in the Wembley final defeat to Italy.

Since Solskjaer's first match in charge in December 2018, Victor Lindelof (10,289 minutes) is the only player to feature more regularly for the Red Devils than Rashford (9,671 minutes) across all competitions.

Still, United are not short of attacking options in his absence. Rashford's international colleague Jadon Sancho has arrived in the close-season, with the former Borussia Dortmund forward undergoing his first training session with the United squad on Monday.

Marcus Rashford could miss almost three months of the 2021-22 Premier League season after opting to undergo surgery on a long-term shoulder injury.

Rashford is reported to have suffered a muscle tear in his shoulder last November but he played through the pain for the rest of the season, and then featured for England at Euro 2020.

The forward chose to put off treatment on the injury until after the Euros in order to take part in a tournament that England ultimately reached the final of – though Rashford was one of three players to miss a penalty in the final's decisive shoot-out against Italy.

He played for just 84 minutes of England's campaign in total, failing to score, assist or create a chance.

The 23-year-old's form had suffered towards the end of 2020-21, with his last 10 Premier League appearances profiting just five goal contributions. 

But Rashford is also said to have been carrying back and foot complaints for the best part of two years, meaning a period on the sidelines could provide him with a much-needed rest.

After initial reports emerged earlier this month that Rashford would undergo surgery, United decided to wait and seek further medical opinions before making a final decision.

But on Friday it was confirmed that Rashford would indeed go under the knife.

"Following consultation between Marcus, the manager, club medical staff and specialists, Marcus will undergo surgery imminently to resolve his shoulder injury," read a statement from United.

“He will now focus on his rehabilitation in order to return as soon as possible."

United did not release a timetable for his return but reports suggest he could miss 12 weeks of action. The club start their Premier League campaign at home to Leeds United on August 14.

Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first match in charge of United in December 2018, Victor Lindelof (10,289 minutes) is the only player to feature more regularly for the Red Devils than Rashford (9,671 mins) across all competitions.

While Harry Maguire (11,197 mins) and Aaron Wan-Bissaka (10,555 mins) have also played more over the same period, including games for other clubs, Rashford arguably plays a more intense role.

United should be well-stocked to cope with Rashford's absence, however, with Anthony Martial set to return from an injury absence of his own, while the options of Mason Greenwood, Edinson Cavani and Daniel James have been added to with the arrival of Jadon Sancho.

Team GB sprint star Dina Asher-Smith hailed Marcus Rashford and his England team-mates for "showing a really good sense of moral leadership for our nation".

Manchester United striker Rashford earned plaudits for his work lobbying the government to provide free school meals during the height of the coronavirus pandemic last year, while he and the rest of the Three Lions squad who reached the final of Euro 2020 this month were also vocal in the fight against racism, continuing to take a knee throughout the tournament in a united showing against racial prejudice.

Asher-Smith, who will be going for gold in the 100 and 200 metres at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, has herself spoken out about her experiences of racism and in March she received the column of the year award by the International Sport Press Association for an article she wrote in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder.

She has also been a vocal supporter of the protests taken by Naomi Osaka and Lewis Hamilton in the past and the 25-year-old, a die-hard Red Devils supporter, hopes to do more in the area of social activism once the Olympics have finished.

"I think what Marcus and all the other players have been doing is fantastic and it made me so proud to watch them and see how they conducted themselves," Asher-Smith told a roundtable of journalists at a pre-Games Team GB call.

"I think they've done fantastically throughout the Euros. I think they surpassed all our expectations in the nicest way.

"They are actually a credit to our nation and showing a really good sense of moral leadership for our nation and I think as sports people we are really proud and definitely as a Brit, and a black Brit, especially throughout the Euros I was really proud of them. I think they represented both the nation and our community incredibly well.

"Social activism is something I'd love to increase, but with the Olympics and everything I've been one-track minded towards Tokyo. But definitely once we're past this point, because I definitely compartmentalise things, when I'm over this little compartment of my life that's definitely something I want to increase because you do have to give back.

"I think it's an essential part of being not only an athlete but someone who has had an opportunity and the only reason I'm here today is because of the good will and hard work of so many other people in teams and throughout my community and so many opportunities I've had, whether that's grants or school teachers taking extra time to take me to a club or telling me about a club.

"It's goodwill of other people so it would be entirely selfish to not give back when you have the opportunity to in your career and I'm really proud of how the footballers have done that throughout the year and how they conducted themselves throughout the Euros." 

 

Athletes competing in Tokyo are set to have more scope to protest at the upcoming Olympics after the IOC relaxed its controversial Rule 50, which previously forbade any "demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas".

The IOC will allow athletes to make protests prior to competitions starting, though anyone doing so on podiums or medal ceremonies – similar to the famous Black Power salute made by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics – could face sanctions.

Asher-Smith always expected a climb down, adding: "I think to see the IOC lifted the ban, I was entirely unsurprised. 

"Protesting I see as a fundamental human right, so if you were to penalise someone for standing up against racial inequality how on earth would that go? You know what I mean? How on earth would you enforce that? 

"Would you revoke somebody's medal for saying racism is wrong? I honestly thought that was always going to happen otherwise they would have just been faced with loads of athlete protests at the Games and it would have been really embarrassing, you can't really tell people not to.

"Unless they want to say they're against people saying they're against racism I didn't know how that was going to go.

"Some of the Olympics' most iconic moments have been the Black Power salute by Tommie Smith way back when, and that is something people remember the Olympics for, that's something they're very proud to see at the Olympic Games."

Asher-Smith, the reigning 200m world champion, also hopes she can play her part in inspiring young women to take part in sports over the course of the next two weeks.

"I think the next fortnight has great potential to inspire an entire generation of young women as we do with every Olympics," she said.

"But I think it's becoming increasingly important nowadays. We have significant drop-off rates of young women.

"They hit teenage years, they're all very active in the sporting field or active world, then they hit between 11 and 15 and drop out in their droves.

"Then it's under 10 per cent get enough exercise or get the government recommended guidelines of exercise and engage on aesthetic grounds rather than having fun. 

"I hope the next fortnight shows not only can you make a viable career out of this. Being a sportswoman in whatever you want to do is a viable career it's not just track and field, it's not just tennis, it's not just football there are many avenues you can go down to be a career sportswoman. 

"But also that it's fun, that it can completely change your life, develop lifelong friendships, it's not just about doing sport for a physical goal to lose weight, to gain this, to alter your body but also for self-esteem, your mind, your mental health and to live a fulfilled and enriched life. 

"I think the Olympic Games has an incredible chance to inspire so many women and also women who have had babies, and the Paralympics as well, women who have very different life circumstances to all of us, so I think it's a great platform and showcase for all the sports we love."

Marcus Rashford has taken action to pre-empt questions over the motives behind his charitable efforts ahead of the publication of a story alleging he has commercially benefited in the past 18 months.

Manchester United and England striker Rashford became involved in FareShare's drive for donations, food and volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

As a kid, Rashford's family relied on free school meals and he subsequently used his status and profile to help FareShare distribute the equivalent of over 21 million meals for British children and families who would otherwise struggle.

Rashford's work then helped bring about a U-turn by the United Kingdom's Conservative government over the extension of free school meals for the summer holidays, ensuring 1.3 million vulnerable children would continue to have access to food when they otherwise may not.

The success of Rashford's campaigning has seen him link up with various other companies in their charitable ventures, though the 23-year-old seemingly caught wind of a story that is set to be run by British political and current affairs magazine, The Spectator.

Rashford claimed the publication – which counts current UK prime minister Boris Johnson among its former editors – is going to address "how I have benefitted commercially in the last 18 months".

Getting out in front of the story, Rashford tweeted: "To clarify, I don't need to partner with brands. I partner because I want to progress the work I do off the pitch and most of any fee I would receive contributes to that.

"Last summer, 1.3m children had access to food support, through my relationship with [the fashion brand] Burberry children have a safe place to be after school where they will be fed, following the November investment vulnerable children have safe places to go this summer holiday, and due to my relationship with [publishing company] Macmillan 80,000 children now have a book to call their own.

"Do I have a larger commercial appeal following the U-turns? I'm sure, but I'm also a Manchester United and England international footballer.

"Why has there always got to be a motive? Why can't we just do the right thing?"

Finally, he added: "I actually enjoy reading bits from The Spectator now and again, but this is just a non-starter."

Manchester United have not yet decided if Marcus Rashford requires surgery despite reports to the contrary.

Recent media speculation suggested United and Rashford had come to the decision that the England international needed an operation to fix a long-standing shoulder issue.

Rashford is said to have been struggling with the problem since at least November, while it has also been claimed he has not been truly injury free in two years.

Were Rashford to have surgery, it is thought he would be out at least until October, forcing him to miss a significant amount of football at the start of 2021-22.

But Solskjaer is adamant a decision is yet to be made.

"No, we're looking at the best options," Solskjaer said after United's 2-1 friendly win over Derby County when asked if surgery was definitely in the offing for Rashford.

"Of course, he went away just to reflect on it a little bit. We have to take the best course of action for him and the club.

"We're still addressing that with the experts."

While Rashford's involvement in the early weeks of the season is in some doubt, Jesse Lingard looks set to play a part for United.

Lingard spent the second half of 2020-21 on loan at West Ham and found some spectacular form, scoring nine goals and setting up another four in 16 Premier League outings for the Hammers.

That form forced him back into England contention, and although he was ultimately cut from Gareth Southgate's final selection for Euro 2020, it was evidence that perhaps his United career was not over as many would have suggested in January.

West Ham have been credited with a desire to bring him back to the London Stadium, though for the time being he will be remaining at Old Trafford.

"Jesse has come back, he's been bright and he wants to fight for his place," Solskjaer said. "There's nothing better than seeing players willing to fight for their place. Of course, what he did towards the end of the season, that is the true Jesse.

"That's what we know he is capable of. I think we saw towards the end [of our own season] that we lacked maybe some options at times."

Facundo Pellistri seems set to depart on loan again, however. The Uruguayan winger, 20, scored the winning goal for United on Sunday in a generally encouraging second-half outing, but Solskjaer expects him to leave temporarily having spent part of 2020-21 with Deportivo Alaves.

"I thought he was bright and he took his goal really well," Solskjaer said. "Great first touch, good pass by Shola [Shoretire], but great first touch with sets him up.

"It was a very good goal, the first touch set him up and he's very good at dribbling so going past the goalkeeper wasn't a problem. He was bright when he came on.

"I think he showed what he is because he's a difficult player to play against. One against one he can go past people so very pleased with him.

"I can see a loan deal for him, there's been loads of interest and for his best interests a loan would be what we look for."

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