PROFILE OF NEW MANCHESTER UNITED STRIKER ANTHONY MARTIAL
Manchester United completed the transfer of Anthony Martial from Monaco on deadline day and, here, we provide a detailed assessment of his exciting career to date…
A forward who is often compared to Premier League legend Thierry Henry, another former Monaco man, Anthony Martial is widely regarded as one of the most highly-rated young players in Europe.
The 19-year-old was initially preparing for France’s international friendly with Portugal before flying to Manchester to join the Reds, his third club in professional football after Olympique Lyonnais and AS Monaco.
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 llater 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.