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Many eyebrows were raised when Manchester United forked out £36 million to sign Monaco’s Anthony Martial at the end of the summer transfer window. It was a world record fee for a teenager and could raise to an astronomical £58 million depending on his success.
In England at least, Martial was not a big name and there were those who viewed it as a panic buy after United had made an uninspiring start to the season.
At the very least, the fee seemed vastly inflated for a player who had only scored 11 goals in Ligue 1 and wasn’t even a regular starter for Monaco last season.
Silencing the critics
The fee certainly added to the pressure on Martial’s young shoulders but he wasted no time in making a few doubters eat their words. Having come on as a 65th minute substitute against Liverpool, he left Martin Škrtel for dead with a jinking run before coolly slotting home to seal a 3-1 win for United.
There is no better way to warm yourself to the Manchester United fans than scoring a decisive goal against Liverpool and when Martial bagged two more the following weekend in a 3-2 win at Southampton, early comparisons between the young Frenchman and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry did not seem so fanciful.
Martial added another just three days later against Ipswich in the Capital One Cup to make it four goals in three appearances in a United shirt. However, things haven’t quite gone as smoothly for the forward or his team since then.
A victim of his early success
He has only added five goals to his tally in the last four months, a return he’ll no doubt be a little disappointed with but he is to some extent a victim of his own early success.
Manchester United bought a raw talent rather than a finished article when they signed him in the summer and made no secret of that, so perhaps immediate expectations were unfairly raised when Martial made his explosive start to life in the Premier League.
His game is about more than goals though and there have been positive performances in recent weeks and with the pace that he possesses, Martial will always be a threat. Like many of Manchester United’s attacking players, his effectivity has been curbed by the cautious approach that Louis Van Gaal has employed for most of this season.
Vibrant tactics and a faster-paced game would be of benefit
Martial would benefit from more vibrant tactics and a faster paced game and there have been signs that the Dutch manager may finally be beginning to adopt such a style in the recent wins over Derby and Stoke.
That would suit the young forward who has shown more than enough glimpses of real quality this season to suggest he could be a key player for the Red Devils over the coming years.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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