United have announced that they have signed 19-year-old French forward Anthony Martial from Monaco. His arrival comes amid a frenzied couple of days of transfer activity which has seen Javier Hernandez move to Bayer Leverkusen on a permanent basis after last year’s loan spell at Real Madrid and Adnan Januzaj’s loan move to Borussia Dortmund.
Martial first emerged at Lyon where he made several Ligue 1 appearances. Competition for places was tough however with a number of older and more experiences young and established players ahead of him in the pecking order and in 2013 he moved to Monaco. Initially competition was as tough at Monaco where Claudio Ranieri could choose from Dimitar Berbatov, Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez as attackers as Monaco finished 2nd to Paris Saint-Germain in 2014. At this time however the player got plenty of experience from the bench featuring frequently as a substitute.
Things changed for Martial with the appointment of a new coach, Leonardo Jardim, last summer. Initially it was business as usual with the player featuring as a substitute, but mid-season Jardim switched to a 4-3-3 counter-attacking system which suited the players pace and power. In the second half of last season Martial scored 8 goals in 9 games and starred in the Champions League where he provided a crucial assist for Berbatov in the first leg of a tie at the Emirates as Monaco eliminated Arsenal.
Martial has played for France at U-19 and U-21 level and was a member of the side which finished runners-up in the 2013 U-19 European Championship.
Martial is right-footed and is generally used as a line leading centre-forward although he can play on either the left or right wing. A strong powerful player with good upper body strength he is not afraid to take on central defenders in a physical battle and may provide the central presence missing from United currently in the final third. His combination play is also good and he provides his fair share of assists through close interchange play in tight areas around the box. He is considered to be a good all-round forward but as one would expect of a 19-year-old a little rough around the edges. His first touch needs some work and most would consider him as “one for the future” rather than a “ready-made” solution to United’s current forward issues. He is not known for his defensive play.
His greatest strength is perhaps his ability to get shots in. He is considered an instinctive striker but has regularly demonstrated a determination to engineer shooting opportunities for himself.
The question mark for United fans is whether Martial is ready to make a significant contribution at United. There is no doubt that he is a good prospect and he is the type of player United are currently lacking, big, quick and strong he will be a handful for defences and may in time be a real asset. His physicality may provide time and space for others around him in the final third, something which United have struggled to do this season against organised and disciplined defences. We could envisage a situation where Martial would lead the line with Rooney as the support striker/number 10, the role where the captain is at his best.
Anthony Martial, welcome to Old Trafford.