Anthony Martial is a name you would likely have never heard of unless you are a Ligue 1 fanatic or devoted to the Football Manager computer game, but he is suddenly in the spotlight following his astonishing transfer from Monaco to Manchester United in a deal reported to be worth between £36 million and £50 million.
It begs the question – why now? And why him? It is no secret that manager Louis Van Gaal desperately needs a striker following the departure of Robin Van Persie and Radamel Falcao this summer, with new arrival Memphis Depay more comfortable on the wing and Wayne Rooney having not led the line for the best part of three years.
Van Gaal’s patience was tested in a bumpy but reasonable start to the season before their 2-1 loss to Swansea last weekend – a game in which their lack of a quality striker was a major factor.
Van Gaal waited until the final moments of the transfer window to make his move with Johnny Evans, Adnan Januzaj and Javier Hernández all shipped out. Then here is Anthony Martial – a Lyon academy product who has earned some comparisons with Thierry Henry. Martial boasts some outstanding statistics in Football Manager but then so do a lot of untested youth talents who have gone on to achieve little.
Scouting reports have described him as quick with good technique and balance as well as being a composed finisher. In that sense he does remind us of Thierry Henry. However, those same reports reveal he is inconsistent and lacks the strength to hold up the ball. How will he perform with his back up against powerful Premier League defenders? It is something we’ll find out soon.
It has been suggested that “super agent” Jorge Mendes might be the key figure behind the double deal which saw his client Martial head to United while another – goalkeeper David De Gea – was finally released to Spain.
But with such a hefty price tag, Van Gaal can’t afford afford to keep Martial on the bench too long, which is not ideal if he wants to ease him into Premier League. It may be an investment for the future but is just as likely a gamble they will lose. The Premier League is unforgiving and at a club used to success the price paid for losing such gambles can be very high.