Much has been made about Manchester United’s last minute summer signing, as the club from Old Trafford splashed £36million on a player their captain had never heard of until Sunday. Whether it was the ‘surprise’ signing Louis van Gaal was hinting about all summer, or whether it was a case of pressing the panic button after United looked toothless against a lively Swansea City side, Anthony Martial is now the most expensive teenager in football history.
The 19-year old has put pen to paper on a four year contract and will take the No.9 shirt, formerly worn by his former Monaco teammate Dimitar Berbatov. The transfer sum is an enormous amount of money, big enough to compel AS Monaco to sell one of their biggest assets, but in Martial, Manchester United have brought a rising star with bags of pace and potential.
Ask Arsene Wenger about him, the Frenchman had front row tickets to watch this young French prodigy tear his defence apart to set up Dimitar Berbatov and knock Arsenal out of the Champions League.
The talent is clearly there, the composure too, but to settle in a League as demanding as the Premier League is no walk in the park. Even Hazard took a while to settle after he moved from France, but Martial has all the makings of a top quality player and if Louis van Gaal can use him well, United’s £36 million may not seem all that huge after all.
So, how does he fit in at Manchester United? Soccersouls looks at three alternatives as to how Manchester United can use their latest acquisition.
Up top on his own
The reason Manchester United failed to trouble the scorers often, is that they simply do not have enough pace in their attack. Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney don’t beat people for pace and Ander Herrera is someone who can pick up a delightful pass and not someone who takes on defences for pace. Martial, if played as a striker, will bring bags of pace and the ability to run into the channels and stretch the backline, something that Wayne Rooney doesn’t do that often.
This will also allow Rooney to play in the hole bringing his vision and passing range into play. United’s front line has looked unbalanced so far, Martial up top could just be the solution.
In a three man front line
This is a sight teams would hate. Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial on the wings with Wayne Rooney playing centrally would not only bring Rooney into the game more often, but add more stability to United’s midfield allowing either Mata or Herrera to support the front men from midfield.
On the right wing
The most likely of the three positions. Being thrust into the main centre forward role isn’t something Louis van Gaal would like to do with his latest signing. Rather, it seems likely he will use Martial on the right wing as a more vertical threat on the outside. This may mean Juan Mata moves into the No.10 role and Rooney actually gets more service from the flanks.
Remember how the Valencia-Rooney combination worked wonders in ’09-’10? Rooney scored 34 goals that season and would be relishing the prospect of better service from the wide areas.