Marcus Rashford has left the door open for an Old Trafford exit at some point, according to Louis van Gaal, who insists the Manchester United star has not said he would "never play for another club".
Rashford has scored 79 goals in 234 appearances for United across all competitions since graduating to the senior squad in 2015.
The 23-year-old, whose current contract is set to run until 2023, is now one of the first names on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team-sheet, with his latest standout display coming in a 3-2 victory away at Sheffield United last week.
Rashford struck twice in that contest to take his tally for the season to 12 goals and will likely be back in United's starting XI when they play host to Leeds United on Sunday.
The England international is reportedly set to be rewarded for his performances with a lucrative new deal, having admitted that he sees his "long-term" future in Manchester during an interview earlier this month.
“For me, I never look beyond Manchester United," he said. "As a kid, I never looked beyond Manchester United. In my mind, it wouldn't sit right for me to be pulling on another shirt.
"I just want to do my best for the club while I'm here. Long term hopefully.”
However, former United head coach Van Gaal thinks Rashford purposely stopped short of ruling out a transfer away from Old Trafford, with plenty of opportunities likely to spring up elsewhere if he continues on his current trajectory.
“I admire him for being such an honest and pure guy. He comes from an area where things are tough," the man who handed the talented young forward his first-team debut four years ago told The Mirror.
“And the way he is fighting for less privileged kids is wonderful. He does a lot of stuff for the community. He is a great lad.
“I enjoyed listening to him when he said he hopes to play at United for a long, long time.
“But I listened carefully. And he did not say he would never play for another club.’’
Van Gaal went on to praise Rashford for how he has developed his all-round game, but still sees plenty of room for him to improve, particularly when it comes to getting his head up in the final third of the pitch.
“When I first saw him, he was an old fashioned dribbler. That is how he played in the reserves," the Dutch head coach added.
“He would take people on all the time, go past them with lovely dribbles. And he still loves to do that.
“But he is now growing as a top player. He knows when he can’t make his dribbles, he needs to pass.
“When he has double markers he needs to come up with quick decisions and different options.
“I have noticed how he is giving more assists for goals, the way he scans the pitch is good.
“He must keep doing that, if he dribbles too much he gets stuck with the ball. When you give him space, he is unstoppable.’’