Man Utd all-time top scorers: How many goals does Rashford need to overtake Rooney?

Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring against Southampton

Marcus Rashford found the net in Manchester United's 9-0 demolition of Southampton on Tuesday night to overtake Eric Cantona in the club's all-time scoring charts. 

The England star now boasts 83 goals in 248 outings for the Red Devils, placing him one strike ahead of King Eric and two behind another Old Trafford legend in David Beckham. 

But how many games would it take for Rashford to outscore the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, his manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, George Best and of course, all-time top scorer Wayne Rooney?

There is no exact science for this because Rashford's overall goals-to-games ratio for United (0.34) is a little skewed by the fact he debuted at an incredibly young age, he's made 79 substitute appearances and hasn't always been utilised as an out-and-out goalscorer. 

With that in mind, we've decided to take Rashford's scoring rate across all competitions since the start of the 2018/19 season, which stands at 0.41 goals per game. This seems about right, making Rashford not quite a one-in-two striker, but better than a one-in-three front-man. 

It also puts Rashford roughly in line with the likes of Rooney, Ronaldo, Andy Cole and Jack Rowley for goals per game - which is pretty good going considering he often lines up on the wing rather than as United's central striker. 

In terms of converting games into seasons, we're putting the average season at 50 appearances, based on the four full campaigns Rashford's had in United's first team. Therefore, according to the 0.41 ratio, Rashford will usually score around 20 goals each season across all competitions. Again, that seems about right. 

So, with our mathematics all cleared up, how many games will it take Rashford to surpass some of United's all-time greats in the scoring charts? All scoring data courtesy of mufcinfo.com.

Cristiano Ronaldo - 118 goals (18th all-time top scorer)

Goals required to overtake: 36

Games required based on 0.41 strike rate: 88

Seasons required: Less than 2

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - 126 goals (16th all-time top scorer)

Goals required to overtake: 44

Games required based on 0.41 strike rate: 107

Seasons required: Just over 2

Ruud van Nistelrooy - 150 goals (11th all-time top scorer)

Goals required to overtake: 68

Games required based on 0.41 strike rate: 166

Seasons required: Just over 3

Ruud van Nistelrooy celebrates scoring for Manchester United

Paul Scholes - 155 goals (10th all-time top scorer)

Goals required to overtake: 73

Games required based on 0.41 strike rate: 178

Seasons required: Just over 3 and a half

Ryan Giggs - 168 goals (8th all-time top scorer)

Goals required to overtake: 86

Games required based on 0.41 strike rate: 210

Seasons required: Just over 4

George Best - 179 goals (Joint-5th all-time top scorer)

Goals required to overtake: 97

Games required based on 0.41 strike rate: 237

Seasons required: Almost 5

Manchester United legend George Best

Bobby Charlton - 249 goals (2nd all-time top scorer)

Goals required to overtake: 167

Games required based on 0.41 strike rate: 407

Seasons required: Just over 8

Wayne Rooney - 253 goals (All-time top scorer)

Goals required to overtake: 171

Games required based on 0.41 strike rate: 417

Seasons required: Just over 8

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Conclusion

So, how likely is our suggested scenario? Well, if we include the rest of the current season and say it will take Rashford a further eight full ones to outscore Rooney, that does seem about right.

At that time Rashford will be 31, he will have made 665 appearances for United and he will have enjoyed his peak years at Old Trafford, with inevitable decline about to take hold.

Of course, no two seasons will be the same and we can't predict things like injuries. But you'd expect things to roughly even themselves out over such a long period unless Rashford were to suffer something career-threatening. 

The other variable is whether Rashford becomes a more prolific goalscorer, something he's threatening to do. His scoring rate since the start of last season stands at 0.58 goals per game, although we felt reluctant to put him in the same bracket as a legend like Denis Law (also 0.58) based on only 18 months' worth of evidence. 

But the good news for United fans is that if Rashford does maintain that rate, he'll be overtaking the club's scoring legends even sooner. 

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