Michael Mongie explains why he thinks Liverpool should make a shock move for Manchester United’s Anthony Martial this summer.
It’s the 12th of September 2015 and Liverpool are already trailing Manchester United 2-1 when former AS Monaco winger Anthony Martial enters the fray.
One look at the kid and I knew he was trouble. Pace, hunger and, more importantly, no fear combined to make a player that was ready to run at a weak Liverpool backline every opportunity he got.
Then, in the 85th minute, Martial got the chance to run at Martin Skrtel, who, for all his heroics at Liverpool, was prone to being a little bit shit at times. When Martial faced him up, it was a situation that no central defender ever wants to be in as he was isolated out wide against a devilishly quick player.
Martial turned the Slovakian defender inside and out, worming his way into the box before he coolly finished past the hapless Simon Mignolet. The most torturous thing about that goal was the way Martin Tyler reacted, almost as if the young Frenchman had just won the Premier League.
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Despite being furious at the way Liverpool had played that day, I was taken by the aggression in Martial’s attacking and his nonchalance at having just scored a fantastic goal on his home debut for Manchester United.
While Martial has obvious talent and the arrogance to match his talent, his time at Manchester United has not gone the way he would have hoped when he signed in 2015.
Joining for an initial £36 million, which had the potential to rise to £58 million, the then 19-year-old would have expected to be a regular starter in the years to come, helping United to regular silverware.
The reality is that under a succession of defensive-minded managers, his progression stalled and has had to compete with wingers more willing to do the type of nitty-gritty work at the back that Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho expect of forwards.
Under Jose Mourinho particularly, Martial has experienced difficulty. It’s not unusual for talented young forwards to battle under the Portuguese as we’ve seen the likes of Mohamed Salah “flop” at Chelsea when he managed there.
At Liverpool, Martial wouldn’t struggle as he has recently at United, with Jürgen Klopp famed for his knack for improving players and helping forwards achieve great things.
Mohamed Salah is a prime example of how playing under Klopp as opposed to Mourinho could only serve to elevate him on a personal level.
The Egyptian was at Chelsea at the same time as Mourinho and he actually moved to London due to Liverpool’s inefficiency in the transfer market. The Reds lowballing Basel led to a Stamford Bridge move for Salah.
The now Liverpool man struggled to get going under a manager who prioritised defence, playing just 19 games, scoring twice. The difference at Liverpool could not be starker.
In 52 games, he has scored 44 times providing 16 assists and evidence to support the argument that Klopp’s style is better suited for young attacking players looking to develop and take their game to the next level.
I could use Mané, Firmino, Lewandowski, Reus, Götze and several other players to make the point but as their reputations precede them, I don’t need to go into the details.
It is worth noting, however, that Martial hasn’t done as poorly under Mourinho as Salah, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku did before being branded ‘Chelsea flops’ and going on to succeed elsewhere.
In his two seasons under Mourinho, he has scored 19 goals but that is still only two better than his first season at Manchester United under Louis van Gaal and this is purely due to not playing as consistently in the last two years.
This lack of football manifested in Martial’s omission from France’s World Cup squad and I strongly believe that he needs to move away from Manchester United to continue progressing.
The arrival of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in January means that he has played fewer minutes than he did in the first five months of the season. Since the Chilean arrived at the club, Martial has made just six starts, failing to find the back of the net once.
This stagnation comes after the Frenchman was directly involved in five goals in the first four games of the season. Defenders aren’t nearly as afraid of Martial as they were when he arrived from AS Monaco in 2015.
He needs to leave Manchester and while Liverpool haven’t been linked with a move, Klopp would do well to make an offer.
Juventus and Tottenham have been rumoured as being interested and while I think a move to Italy might ignite his form and reinstill that swagger and arrogance that embodied his play, I think a Liverpool move would the same and offer him the chance to remain at the peak of English football.
Martial would almost certainly cost over £70 million and I’d pay every penny of it – even just to steal him from United.