Who is Anthony Martial?

Anthony Martial joined Manchester United from Monaco for £36 million on transfer deadline day, a move that made the 19-year-old the most expensive teenager in football history. With the transfer fee potentially reaching a staggering £58 million, every single United supporter wants to know what the young Frenchman is all about. This article takes a closer look at his career so far.

The following statement is from Manchester United’s official website:

“He began his career in the junior ranks of CO Les Ulis, where Henry and former Old Trafford favourite Patrice Evra both started their illustrious careers. At the age of 14, Martial joined Lyon and became a regular for the France Under-16s, scoring nine goals in 17 games. More strikes followed for the Under-17s (nine in 13 games) and Under-18s (three in four games) as his reputation continued to soar at international level. Domestically, he also plundered over 30 goals for Lyon’s Under-17s as it became difficult to contain the hype surrounding his promise.

Although he broke into the Lyon team in 2012/13, making four appearances, more experienced strikers such as Lisandro Lopez, Alexandre Lacazette and Bafetimbi Gomis, who scored the winner for Swansea City against United in August, naturally barred the way to the starting XI. However, Martial’s excellent potential was so obvious Monaco paid €5million for his signature in a transfer that rocked French football.

The attackers competing for a starting place included Radamel Falcao but Anthony still managed 11 league appearances, scoring twice as the team finished runners-up behind Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1. Falcao’s loan switch to Old Trafford at the beginning of 2014/15 enabled Martial to take over the mantle as the main striker and he responded with nine goals, while also only missing three league fixtures all season. Monaco later finished third and even reached the Champions League quarter-finals.

Although Martial did not score in Europe, he did set up a goal for former Reds striker Dimitar Berbatov and impressed against United’s Premier League rivals Arsenal in the competition’s second round. The performance at the Emirates Stadium was one of his finest as the Gunners suffered a shock 3-1 defeat.

Martial is already off the mark for 2015/16 after netting against Young Boys in the Champions League qualifiers, though it was Monaco’s exit from the competition at the hands of Valencia that reportedly opened the door to broker a deal for a player who had only signed a new contract in early July.

He is capable of playing as a right-sided attacker and his youth-team pedigree suggests he will become more prolific in front of goal as he matures. A fan of Brazilians including Ronaldo and Sonny Anderson as a schoolboy, he has elements of South American-style flair in his game and should prove popular with fans.”

It is clear that Martial is highly rated not only in France but also across the rest of Europe and even South America. He has bags of ability and has the potential to become a world-class superstar. Being likened to Arsenal great Thierry Henry is a compliment in itself, and if the young forward performs even half as well as the Premier League legend once did, then the Old Trafford crowd will have a new name to shout about.

It will be interesting to see where he features in Louis Van Gaal’s plans. So far this season the United manager has played one striker in Wayne Rooney. With Martial capable of playing as an effective winger, will he take the place of either Mata or Memphis? Or will the Dutchman alter his formation and play the Frenchman up front with the England captain, with Rooney reverting to his traditional number ten role that many regard as his best position? My feeling is that Martial will fill the void left by Adnan Januzaj, after the young Belgian moved to Borussia Dortmund on a season-long loan. Rooney will drop back and play just behind the youngster, not straight away, but gradually once Martial has adjusted to his new surroundings and has started to adapt to the high intensity of the English game.

I hope he does well for United. Having a £36 million price tag hovering above your head cannot be easy for any footballer, let alone a 19-year-old boy who has just signed for one of the biggest clubs in the world. If he is given time to settle in England and is well looked after by United, then from what I have read and heard about him, I am sure he will do very well. If you’re good enough, then you’re old enough. After all, age is just a number.

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