Anthony Martial signed for Manchester United at the start of last season from French Ligue 1 outfit Monaco for a price that made him the most expensive teenage signing in the history of the game. A price tag like that brings with it pressure, and heaps of it. There have been several instances of expensive signings bombing at their new teams: Andy Carroll at Liverpool, Fernando Torres at Chelsea, and Jackson Martinez at Atletico Madrid are some of the recent examples.
And when the player is still in his teens, the chances of the whole thing going to his head are even higher. But Martial has proven to be a completely different breed.
The Frenchman started his Premier League career in stupendous fashion as he made his debut against the Red Devils’ fiercest rivals Liverpool. Coming on as a second half substitute, Martial went on a sizzling run in the 86th minute of the game as he went past three Liverpool players and expertly found a way past a hapless Simon Mignolet in the Reds’ goal to announce his arrival in English football in the best way possible.
He then followed it up with a brace in a 3-2 win over Southampton as if to say that what happened on his debut was no fluke. And it certainly wasn’t; if his first season in the Premier League is viewed as a whole.
The 20-year-old went on to feature in 56 matches across all competitions and scored 18 times. He also provided nine assists to the Red Devils’ cause as they endured a difficult season under Dutch manager Louis van Gaal. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager was sacked at the end of a thankless campaign, but he did win Manchester United the FA Cup on his way out.
And Martial played a big part in ensuring that Manchester United won their first trophy of the post Sir Alex Ferguson era as he provided an assist and scored a late match winning goal against Everton in the semi-final.
The Frenchman is capable of playing on the wings as well as a centre-forward. Under Van Gaal, he mostly started on the left wing and made his way through the centre using his exceptional technical skills and power. He also possesses good speed and his calmness in front of the goal belies his young age.
Future at Manchester United
Martial, in his so far only season at Old Trafford, proved to be the brightest spot in an otherwise dire team. Now Manchester United have appointed Jose Mourinho at the helm and the Portuguese, who is notorious for his lack of faith in young players, will be well-advised to keep Martial on top of his list of first team starters.
Prospects with the national team
The current crop of the France national team is blessed with an enormous amount of talent in all areas of the pitch. As the French team prepare for the Euro 2016, Martial is expected to be among the preferred options in attack alongside Antoine Griezmann and Kingsley Coman.