Anthony Martial looks like he could be the odd one out at Manchester United this season. Bruno Fernandes is key to the side’s attack and one of the first names on the team sheet. Edinson Cavani provides qualities that no other player can add to the team. Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood are both developing academy graduates, while Jadon Sancho has been signed for huge money.
Supporters will see their preferred attack as being Sancho, Fernandes and Rashford playing behind Cavani. Greenwood will be the first choice to rotate in for three of those four positions. It leaves Martial on the sidelines looking in. Given the amount of matches that United have to play, there will still be plenty of opportunities for the Frenchman. However, he won’t be happy being on the bench for big matches. At the age of 25, he should be emerging as a key player in the attack at Old Trafford. He is further away from that than he has ever been during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure.
Last season, Martial started the season as the starting striker. Following an excellent 2019/20 campaign that saw him score 17 Premier League goals, it was hoped that he would make the position his own. Cavani was brought in as experienced cover, but it was the Frenchman that had the shirt. He didn’t manage to carry on his form, contributing four goals and three assists in the recent season.
It was marred by injury, which didn’t help his rhythm. However, Manchester United looked a much better side with Cavani leading the line. His hold up play was better, as the rest of the attack benefitted from playing alongside the Uruguayan. Meanwhile, the former PSG striker had much better movement and was more natural in the role. There is an argument to be made that Martial is more effective as a left-sided attacker. This is the position that Rashford plays in the current United set-up.
One of Martial’s strengths is his ability to pick up the ball on the left wing, burst inside and his dangerous shots from the channel. There are few better at finishing from that position. There will be opportunities for Martial to start up front as Cavani won’t be relied on to play every game. However, the faster route to the first team could come on the left as Rashford is due to miss the start of the season.
There are some rumours linking Martial with a move away, as Manchester United try to raise money to fund their own summer transfer business. Tottenham have been rumoured as a possible destination, but he plays in the same position as Son Heung-min and Harry Kane. The Frenchman doesn’t seem a great fit for the North London club.
It seems the short term future for Martial is in Manchester. However, there are a lot more doubts about his role in the team than there have been in recent seasons. The focus is on Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford and Cavani. Martial is very much an afterthought in the discussions about United’s attack.
It will take a brave man to call this the end of Martial’s career at Old Trafford. There has never been any doubt about his talent and he should be refreshed following a summer of rest. He will feel like he has a point to prove and he could have a big part to play at the start of the season, especially if Rashford is ruled out for a few months.