Anthony Martial’s time with Manchester United has been a reflection of the club’s instability in recent times. The Frenchman was acquired while Luis van Gaal was in charge in 2015 after impressing at French side Monaco. In fact, the young forward was then United’s most expensive signing after Angel Di Maria (£59.7 million) and Juan Mata (£37.1 million) after the club paid £36 million for his services. That made him the world’s most expensive teenage footballer at the time. He signed a four-year deal and was given the number nine jersey.
For a club that has had some of the best forwards in world football adorn the number nine shirt, that spoke volumes. He was expected to follow in the footsteps of these greats and help fire the club back to the top of both English and European football. Unfortunately, things have not gone according to plan.
Until recently, Martial had remained on the fringes of the Manchester United team. Managers have come and gone in his time with the club but none has given him the consistent play time he deserves to demonstrate his value to the club. But that is all set to change, at least based on current form.
United have had a difficult start to the season under Mourinho which has seen them remain in mid-table after 10 rounds of matches. But in the midst of the darkness, Martial has emerged as one of only a few shining lights. Despite starting the season on a turbulent note as he was not on the same page with the manager when he left pre-season training to attend to family commitments, he has gradually taken his place as one of United’s best players.
In fact, with four goals to his name in the last three Premier League games, the Frenchman is the club’s most productive player. But that he has not done so well in the past year is not due to a lack of talent or ability. Rather, with Mourinho in charge, the conditions have just not been right. He has usually been subjected to criticism for performances as the Portuguese manager preferred to look for scapegoats when results were unfavourable instead of encouraging his players
Whatever the case, the 22-year-old has taken the bull by the horns and is scoring vital goals for the team. This is coming at a crucial time for both club and player. United needs his goals but his contract with the club runs out at the end of the campaign. Without renewal, he can walk away on a free.
Unfortunately for United, they need him now more than he needs them. Of course, it’s Manchester United and they can always get a good replacement. However, almost all the “good” signings in the last few seasons have failed to live up to expectations. From Pogba to Sanchez, Lukaku, Bailly, Lindelof and Fred. None has won the admiration of the supporters and that’s because they have performed below par (for which the manager, like Real Madrid’s Julen Lopetegui, should be held responsible).
That is part of what makes Martial’s current form even more vital for the side. Luke Shaw recently renewed his contract with the club. Martial should be next in line. He has become one of the first names on the team sheet and so it is in the club’s best interests to do everything necessary to keep him at Old Trafford.