While Paul Pogba has been the Frenchman taking most of the transfer drama around Old Trafford, Martial could see himself being faced with the same rumors away in the coming season. Manchester United bought Anthony Martial in 2015 for a $66 million fee. The price paid came at some surprise supporters. To put this in context Edwardo Camingvania, who is arguably a better prospect today than Martial was in 2015, costs 20 million less than what United paid for Martial. The upside to Martial was undeniable though. A young French prospect who could play both upfront and on the wings is enough to make any manager want his signature.
However, the potential that was seen in marital hasn’t come to fruition. Apart from moments of quality, Martial has been at most an average signing. Now, the Frenchman has moved on from being a youth prospect and the time has come for him to be leading the line up-front. Yet, with Mason Greenwood looming and Cavani still hungry for football, questions about Martial’s future must continue to grow.
Up Top or Out Wide
Martial made his preference known about where he should play: center forward. After using on the left-wing, Ole switched Marital to being a center-forward once Luakau got sold to Inter. That season, 2019/20, was the time for Martial to come out of his shell and becoming the striker that United was desperate for. To his credit, Martial had his best season in Red with 17 goals in the Premier League. Yet his form failed to continue in the following season. Amid injuries, Tony only scored 4 goals in 22 Premier League matches.
The injury to Marcus Rashford changes the look of United coming into the 2021 season. Cavani is still at the club and Greenwood’s role as right-winger will be taken by Jadon Sancho. For the first few games of the season, the left-winger role will be up for grabs. Either Martial or Greenwood will claim it with Dan James supplying backup until Rashford returns from injury.
For Martial, that isn’t great news. Being pushed back to the wing where you started and have consistently lower statistics at, is not an exciting prospect. However, playing understudy for Cavani and watching your potential striker challenger in Greenwood develop while you’re on the bench won’t be the Frenchman’s first choice either. Personally, I believe Martial will get a bit of both. Seeing game time on the wing when Cavani starts and at striker when the 34-year-old Uruagaian needs a break.
United needs a Proper Striker
The time for Martial is now, or soon to be. As wingers like Daniel James and Amad develop, United will become content on the flanks. Yet, at center-forward, the spot is up for grabs. Cavani is aging and Greenwood will want to contend for starting spot, but it looks like the future role belongs to Martial. United showed faith in the Frenchman when they gave him the no 9 shirt when Lukaku left.
Issues for Tony surround his attitude around the pitch. While his technical ability is known to be top-class, supporters often gripe about his effort. Putting it bluntly, Martial looks like he isn’t up for it at times. This lack of hunger could be explained by his usage in the past season. Without many supporting players at striker, Martial had to play an abundant number of games, even through possible injuries. Which his track record with being fit, isn’t great. Since January 2020, Martial has missed 41 games in all competitions from injuries.
The good news for Martial is that this season he will have more cover than ever. If he sustains an injury, since United has proper substitutes then he should be able to recover fully before returning to the squad. However, that same support means that your role in the team could be taken easier by someone else. With the future of United’s center forward being uncertain, Martial will definitely want to fill the void.
Make or Break Season for Tony Martial
Other player’s form this season will also affect Martial’s future. Specifically, Mason Greenwood. Assuming Greenwood trains as a striker rather than a winger in the upcoming term, the room for error will shrink for Martial. Another aspect of the Frenchman’s future is the role he will want to play in the squad. Given that he already wears number 9 on his back, Martial should be the regular striker for United. However, if United tries to get their hands on another forward in the transfer window, things could become complicated for Tony.
The day will come where a decision on Martial must be made. This season will provide more clarity towards his future. If Martial returns to his productive form then United will focus on strengthening other positions in the transfer window. However, if he fails then United will most likely look to the market for a replacement. As his contract ends in the summer of 2024, United will want to make a deal happen before the Summer window of 2023, or else his value will decrease. A transfer for Martial could happen as soon as the summer of 2022, given that United finds a satisfactory center-forward for the future.
Is Martial the future of United’s center forward role, or his just a big-money move that never reached his potential? Give us your opinion in the comments.
GGMU, written by CJ Szaz.