Louis van Gaal has had a turbulent tenure as Manchester United manager, but the signing of Anthony Martial was probably the best thing he has done for the club to date.
After spending two seasons at Monaco, the 20-year-old was signed for an initial £36 million, which could potentially rise to £58 million, making him the most expensive teenager in football.
His transfer was seen as a gamble to most people. He was very much unheard of in England and the transfer fee raised quite a few eyebrows in his native France. However, his magnificent start to his United career silenced any doubts of his ability as he came off the bench to score a quite extraordinary goal against arch-rivals Liverpool on his debut.
He went on to win Premier League Player of the Month in his first month in English football, and looks to have settled into life at Old Trafford.
Shoot take a closer look at the young Frenchman.
What is his strongest position?
The young Frenchman can play as a striker or a left winger. Martial uses his pace to exploit the opposition’s defence – whether it be out wide or upfront. He started his United career as a striker and scored on his debut against Liverpool, before netting a brace on his first start against Southampton.
He has been likened to former Arsenal legend Thierry Henry – which is high praise indeed. Martial regularly played on the left wing for Monaco – scoring 11 goals in 49 league appearance. However, the France international has more recently been deployed out wide performing very effectively, making assists against Derby County and Stoke, as well as scoring a brilliant counter attacking goal against the Potters.
When did he make a name for himself?
Martial was just 14 when he was scouted by the Olympique Lyonnais academy. He showed he had an eye for goal by scoring 32 goals in 21 games in the Under-17 team.
He then made his professional debut for Lyon in December 2012 in a Europa League match, and made just three Ligue 1 appearances before signing for AS Monaco in 2013 for €5 million.
Martial made his first league appearance at 17 and in his second season he scored a last-minute equaliser against PSG. He gained more attention when he helped Monaco knock Arsenal out of the Champions League in the 2014/15 season. After signing for United on September 1, 2015, Martial was called up to the French National team, making his debut three days later against Portugal.
How far can he go?
Martial doesn’t seem to have a limit on his potential. He won his first individual honour at United as he picked up the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month for September, scoring three goals in two matches.
He was also praised by former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson due to his quick impact at Old Trafford, with the Scot stating that “he can do anything”. He is already an automatic starter for United and with Benzema currently banned from the France National Team, Marital will surely play an important role in the French team at this summer’s European Championships.
What are his best attributes?
The teenager has the pace to cut through strong defences and he has already shown he has the physical ability to play in the Premier League. Martial’s finishing ability is on point and he has shown this season he can score various types of goals.
When you see his flair and technique, you can’t help but make comparisons to Thierry Henry. Martial’s technical ability has been fantastic this season, and this was highlighted as he dribbled with ease past two Liverpool defenders before scoring a well-placed shot on his United debut.
What could hold him back?
It doesn’t look like anything can hold Martial back right now. He is a starter now but it is more than likely there will be some more signings moving to Old Trafford in the summer, which could increase the competition for places.
However, with the French starlet’s ability and his performances this season, it is doubtful he will be taken out of the line-up. Martial has the potential to be a hugely important player for United over the next 15 years.