Anthony Martial will never fulfil his potential. Signed for £36 million in 2015 from Monaco, his contract had performance clauses that would pay 7.2 million each. The extra fees depended on him scoring 25 goals in a season, gaining 25 caps for France over four years, and winning the Ballon d’Or before 2019. United never had to pay that money. Throughout his almost eight years at United, Martial has flattered to deceive before fading away, and that’s unlikely to change. He will never be the striker that United need.
A goal scorer is judged on his goals. Martial has never scored enough. His overall ratio of goals to games is below 0.3, meaning he needs more than three games to score a goal. Bruno Fernandes (0.357) and Marcus Rashford (0.332) both score more often. For reference, Zlatan, the man who Martial was upset at for taking his number nine shirt, scored 29 in 53 games for a ratio of 0.55.
In Martial’s best season, 2019-2020, he scored 23 in 48 (0.48) but followed that up with seven goals in 36 games (0.194) the following season. Ole had built him up only to be let down. And it wasn’t the first time. His other decent season was his debut season under Van Gaal. He followed that season up with eight goals in 42 (0.190.) This pattern cannot be ignored. He plays for a manager until he doesn’t.
Mental Strength and Injuries
He has to work on being available. In that fact I agree. He has to be more available. He can’t do nothing for it in that sense, it’s sometimes also bad luck. But sometimes you don’t know also really the cause, what the reason behind it is.Erik ten Hag
There is no doubt Martial has been unlucky with injuries. However, as Ten Hag alluded to in the quote above, sometimes there seems to be more to it than luck. Could it be something similar that happened under Van Gaal and Solskjaer? That he simply no longer felt like playing? He has gone off football under every manager he has played under. He might start well, but he always dips in form and attitude eventually. He never felt like playing for Mourinho. He decided quickly that he didn’t fancy his loan at Sevilla. He fell out of favour for France. All those managers were fooled by his potential, and we are seeing a familiar pattern now at United.
All round game
If a striker doesn’t score goals, then his all-round game needs to be exceptional. He needs to press, track back and hold the ball up under pressure. Martial sometimes does some of those things well. He never does them all well all of the time. Again, it depends on his mood. He can press when he wants to. His hold-up play is good occasionally. Being ok sometimes and scoring a goal every three-ish games shouldn’t guarantee you the number nine shirt at Manchester United.
Enough is enough
Anthony Martial’s days at United are numbered. He’ll either see his contract out skulking around training, playing in fits and starts, or move in the Summer, where he’ll fool another manager before letting him down. He’s never scored enough goals, is often out injured and falls out of love with football after every bright start. Manchester United need a top-quality striker, and that will never be Anthony Martial.