Last month it was reported that Anthony Martial wants to leave Manchester United because the French star is becoming disillusioned under Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford.
Louis van Gaal originally brought the 22-year-old to England in a £36 million deal from AS Monaco that could potentially rise to £58 million. A teenager at the time, Martial made an impact for the Dutch coach and Manchester United fans on his debut as he came off the bench to score in a 3-1 victory over rivals Liverpool.
Anthony Martial was only 19 at the time he joined the biggest football club in the world but looked to have a very bright career ahead of him. The youngster started 29 Premier League games in his first season at Manchester United, under van Gaal, scoring 11 goals and putting on four assists.
United would win the FA Cup that season but Louis van Gaal would be dismissed the same day, as Jose Mourinho had become available.
The ‘Special One’ as he was once known as was always destined to become Manchester United manager one day and there was no greater opportunity for the club to bring him in that summer, in 2016.
It’s turned out to be to the detriment of Anthony Martial that the former FC Porto, Chelsea, Internazionale and Real Madrid manager is at Old Trafford, as the French international’s career has somewhat plateaued. Martial has made just 36 Premier League starts in the two seasons since Mourinho became United boss, and the signing of Alexis Sanchez in January was almost telling him that his career with the Red Devils was over.
However, the attacker has remained productive during the sparse starts he has been given over those two years, with 13 goals and 11 assists in the Premier League. Unfortunately, he wasn’t playing sufficient football to be part of Didier Deschamps’ squad for this summer’s World Cup, in which France face Belgium in the first semi-final on Tuesday.
With United having Sanchez and Marcus Rashford down the left wing, this would be an opportune time for Anthony Martial to seek a transfer. It had even been reported earlier in the year that Jose Mourinho would allow the player to leave.
Possible destinations? How about Premier League rivals Arsenal? The Gunners have just finished outside the top four for a second consecutive season, but have finally changed manager. Arsene Wenger’s retirement this summer was a breath of fresh air to Gooners, and his replacement, Unai Emery, has already started to rebuild the squad.
Injury-prone duo Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla have been released while Per Mertesacker called it a day on his football career this summer.
So far Emery has brought in experienced right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner, presumably to play backup to Hector Bellerin, goalkeeper Bernd Leno, presumably to demote Petr Cech to the bench, or move him on, and centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
Arsenal’s leaky defence has certainly been the priority for the new boss this summer. They could still be looking for a new left-back and even another centre-back too. Bringing in a holding midfielder will surely be another key area for Unai Emery to upgrade.
In attack, the Gunners look pretty solid. They have a choice of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette or Danny Welbeck up front. On the right wing is Henrikh Mkhitaryan, with Mesut Ozil in the number 10 role. Aaron Ramsey can support the attack from a central midfield role.
However, they are weak on the left-hand side of attack. Following the departure of Alexis Sanchez in January, Wenger tried Welbeck, Aubameyang and Ozil out there, but Alex Iwobi seemed to be his preference. Alex Iwobi isn’t the kind of player that is going to help Arsenal challenge for the Premier League title.
This is where the availability of Anthony Martial could be key for Arsenal. The North London club have done business with Premier League rivals Manchester United in the past – the swap deal for Sanchez in January, and the sale of Robin van Persie previously, spring to mind.
It’s unlikely Jose Mourinho and Manchester United would sell Anthony Martial for cheap, nor to Arsenal if there are offers from abroad. However, the money floating around England right now should put Arsenal in a strong position to negotiate. They should be able to outbid most foreign clubs, perhaps with Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain being the exceptions, but neither club have been linked, nor do either club have any great need for Martial.
The pace and goalscoring threat that Anthony Martial could offer to Arsenal would be a big upgrade on what both Iwobi and Welbeck currently offer the Gunners. He has certainly adapted to the English game during his three years with Manchester United, has plenty of unfulfilled potential, and would be better suited to an attacking team than what Jose Mourinho is currently offering him at Old Trafford.
It would certainly make the headlines if Arsenal were able to bring in Anthony Martial from Manchester United, and it would also be one step closer to putting the Gunners back among the title contenders, or at least getting back into the top four next season.