Why has Anthony Martial flopped at Man Utd? Louis Saha offers up three reasons for French striker’s struggles
- Forward moved to England in 2015
- Has struggled for form and fitness
- Exit talk generated again in 2023
WHAT HAPPENED? There were early signs of encouragement from the enigmatic frontman following his £36 million ($43m) transfer from Monaco in 2015, with the target found on 17 occasions in his debut campaign. Martial went on to break the 20-goal barrier in 2019-20, but he spent part of last season on loan at Sevilla and has made just 14 appearances across all competitions this term. Injury struggles have done little to aid his cause, but questions continue to be asked of his attitude and ability to lead the line as a central No.9.
WHAT THEY SAID: Former United striker Saha has – speaking in association with Paddy Power – told GOAL when asked to explain why a fellow countryman has failed to fulfil his potential at Old Trafford: “There are a few reasons why it hasn’t worked out for Anthony Martial at Manchester United and there are three that I can pick out. Firstly, he came to a United team when it was not easy to develop as a player. Secondly, mentally, his approach towards games wasn’t right to secure a starting spot on a regular basis and competition was a bit of a challenge sometimes. But it’s more about his own quality and being able to express himself the way we expect. Fans become very demanding when you have that much quality.
“The third reason is because of the physical side of the game. He’s had injuries and coming back from those doesn’t give him the right platform to perform. We know he can help the team and I’m not as critical as other pundits, but we can see from the level of Manchester United, that the quality is nowhere near the one that Martial is offering them right now. He must be very frustrated because he can definitely improve on all the first two. But he can’t really do anything about the last point. He isn’t built the same way as someone who will run all over the pitch, press and have high intensity the whole time. It’ll be frustrating for him to see that, but it is what it is.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Martial has not figured for United since February 1, due to his latest fitness setback, with January signing Wout Weghorst now being trusted to lead the line. Saha added when asked if the 27-year-old may have played his last game for the Red Devils: “The situation is frustrating because he plays for a team full of confidence, and he can definitely do as well as the striker currently playing [Weghorst] but he’s not been given the chance. But that’s life and that’s what it’s like at a big club. It’s very frustrating because United were playing in a different style when he got there, and the effect he’s having on the team has reduced and I feel very sorry for him. He’s played in just 14 games and scored in the Europa League, but that’s definitely not the same calibre of player he’d come up against in the Premier League. I hope he gets some chances towards the end of the season but, who knows?”
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WHAT NEXT? United will be back in Europa League action on Thursday when taking in the second leg of a last-16 encounter with Real Betis that they currently lead 4-1 on aggregate. They then have one further game before the international break - an FA Cup quarter-final tie against Fulham.