Even with football coverage being totally immersed in the World Cup, there is still a transfer window for clubs and fans to think about which Manchester United supporters have quickly realised after Anthony Martial’s agent spoke out to the French media.
Philippe Lamboley, Martial’s representative, said to RMC Sport:
“After thinking about all the possibilities and scenarios, Anthony wants to leave Manchester United. Manchester United wants to extend Anthony’s contract and they do not want him to leave but we haven’t found [an] agreement for several months.”
It comes to quite a surprise for some fans of the Red Devils that Martial has given the green light to his agent to speak out so decisively on his behalf, but the Frenchman clearly thinks this is the best way to go around getting what he wants.
Football is not so black and white when it comes to contract negotiations or transfers. While on the surface level, Martial appears to want a move away from United, it could also be a ploy to force the club to come around to his terms on a contract extension. What was interesting was Lamboley’s comments after the bombshell news which alludes to plenty of discussions about furthering his time at Old Trafford.
The biggest stumbling block from Martial’s point of view is the fact that, since the club signed Alexis Sánchez from Arsenal in January, he featured in eight Premier League matches and only started half of them. For a player that has as much talent as the Frenchman possesses, the most important thing is regular game time, which he is simply not getting at his current club.
As a 22-year-old with the world at his feet, Martial needs to kick on and reach the next level. He might have won the Golden Boy award back in 2015, but there has to be consistency to his game and a regular slot in a team that he can express himself in.
He found that under Louis van Gaal’s regime, in which he excelled in, but under José Mourinho, the former Monaco forward has struggled to impress the Portuguese boss and has been used in a bit-part role by the manager.
There should be no one doubting the sheer quality that Martial has. In the opening nine Premier League games he featured in, the wide forward scored four and assisted twice. While numbers are important, his work in United’s goals was especially prevalent and he made a huge difference transitioning from defence into attack. Martial was a key component in those games and played what most would consider a pivotal role in United knocking four goals past even the most solid of teams regularly.
However, since Mourinho and the club decided to swap Henrikh Mkhitaryan for Sánchez in January, Martial’s role on the left-hand side has become minute to accommodate the Chilean into the first-team. While, of course, Sánchez is a world-class player, he only showed that level of performance fans have become accustomed to seeing of him in glimpses throughout his first six months in a United shirt.
And so it begs the question as to why the Portuguese boss did not utilise Martial on a more regular basis, especially seeing the success of the team early on in the season with the Frenchman firmly influencing attacking play.
From Martial’s standpoint, it is not about the money being offered, but assurances over game time moving forward. There is no reason to stay put if he cannot work his way into the starting XI on a more regular basis. He might as well leave to a club like Juventus - currently priced at 4/1 with Ladbrokes as Martial’s next club - who can nourish his talent and unlock his full potential, just as they did with Paul Pogba.
On the other hand, Manchester United are not going to make it an easy task for any potential suitor to come and prize Martial away from them. They clearly do not want to sell a generational talent and have briefed the media by saying so. It would be nonsensical to issue a statement saying they are open to offers and would weaken their hand in negotiations for the Frenchman.
However, with player power reaching new heights, the club will be forced to listen to offers and negotiate if Martial expresses a strong desire to leave or hands in a formal transfer request. It has not got to that stage yet, and so it will depend on how strongly the Frenchman wants to leave for pastures new.
The Red Devils signed Martial for an initial £36 million with various bonuses included that could eventually rise to £57.6 million. Some of those add-ons were related to performances on the field, while there was also a Ballon d’Or bonus to be activated should he win the honour while playing for the club.
With the way the current market continues to become inflated year in, year out, Manchester United are unlikely to accept anything less than £70 million with a healthy sell-on percentage attached to it. They will know what a talent Martial is and how good he can become, and so selling for anything less than that amount would be scandalous.
Football changes in a heartbeat and Martial could quickly decide to stay at United - offered at a favourable 4/6 with Paddy Power - should he get assurances over playing time. It is also down to him to impress the manager and force his way into the team, but a compromise needs to be made one way or another.
If there is not, there is no reason why Martial should feel he needs to stay and play his football at Old Trafford - there are a whole host of clubs queuing up to sign him. To stay up to date with this story, make sure to check out the Transfer Hound.