When Manchester United signed Anthony Martial for a price believed to be worth £36m – with add-ons that are likely to take the final fee closer to £60m – and in the process made him the most expensive teenager in the world, many questions were raised regarding the judgement of the Manchester United hierarchy as it was perceived that they have gambled a massive sum on an unproven teenager who may become a great, but equally likely, fail miserably.
However, the youngster has so far taken the Premier League like a duck to water and his assuredness and calmness in front of the opposition belies his age.
Martial made his debut for the Red Devils in a high-stake fixture against Liverpool when he came on as a late substitute with only a few minutes of normal time left in the match. He received a pass from Ashley Young near the left touchline and rushed towards the goal, evading Liverpool’s defenders and eventually got past the centre-back pairing of Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren to make room to shoot. He executed his shot beautifully past Simon Mignolet to announce his arrival to the Premier League in general and the Old Trafford faithful in particular, with a bang.
In their last league game against Southampton, the Red Devils were bombarded with a flurry of shots from the Saints in the first 30 minutes of the match and were down a goal by the 13th minute courtesy of a strike from Graziano Pelle. But in the 34th minute Martial took centre stage and slotted the ball calmly past Maarten Stekelenburg to bring the scores level.
And he was at it again in the 50th minute to put the Red Devils 2-1 ahead against the Saints. His goal led to the travelling Manchester United faithfully sarcastically singing “what a waste of money.”
The Frenchman has scored three times in his two Premier League appearances – combined 80 minutes, to be exact – and his tally is only one short of the four that Radamel Falcao managed the entirety of last season.
The youngster, who was largely unknown outside of France prior to his move to Old Trafford, has drawn comparisons with his compatriot, the legendary Arsenal striker Thierry Henry; and if he continues in the same vein the way he has begun it won’t be long before he starts justifying his price tag.
Martial has also been greatly helped by the timing of his move. The Old Trafford outfit have sold the likes of Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez and also chose to part company with Falcao after the completion of his loan move. Adnan Januzaj, who was talked up by Louis van Gaal as a possible forward option, was subsequently loaned out to German Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund.
As a consequence, Manchester United were left with huge gaps to fill in their forward department. Add to it the wretched form of Wayne Rooney and Martial’s signing became a case of perfect timing for the youngster.
Now, he is assured of getting chances and it’s up to him if he makes them count. And if early signs are anything to go by, he is making a meal of it.