The Manchester United forward promised much when he first moved to Old Trafford but has arguably not quite delivered as much as was initially hoped
“Welcome to Manchester United, Anthony Martial!”
It was one of Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler’s most iconic lines, and it came after the fresh-faced, much-hyped teenager came off the bench to score a stunning solo goal on his debut and seal a 3-1 win over bitter rivals Liverpool.
Martial was just 19 years old when United made him the most expensive teenager in the world at the time, splashing out £36m on his signature, and their manager Louis van Gaal called for patience with the Frenchman.
Following his goal against Liverpool, however, comparisons were immediately drawn between Martial and a Premier League legend – Thierry Henry.
Anthony Martial had the perfect debut when he scored a brilliant goal against Liverpool (Image: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
There are obvious similarities between the two; both grew up in the suburbs of Paris and broke through at Monaco, and Martial’s strike against the Reds was almost a carbon copy of Henry’s signature curling finish when one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
In his five seasons at Old Trafford so far, however, Martial has yet to reach the levels Henry set.
There have been some magic moments, of course, and the 24-year-old has been far from a flop, yet the fact remains he has yet to score over 20 goals in a season and can often prove to be a frustrating watch for Red Devils fans.
Arsenal legend Lee Dixon recently spoke to Henry, and revealed that the Gunners hero thinks Martial has not had enough strong figures in the dressing room to guide him.
Martial’s debut goal reminded many people of Arsenal legend Thierry Henry (Image: Actions)
Speaking to the Arsenal podcast Handbrake Off , Dixon said: “I talked about that with him [Henry] recently. We did some work together with Amazon Prime when they had the two games around Christmas time. I presumed he knew Martial because theyre from the same area in France so I asked him about Martial.
“I said, ‘What hes like?’ and he looked at me with that look that he does as if to say: ‘Have I not already spoken to you about this?’
“And he said, ‘Hes exactly like I was when I came to Arsenal. He needs to go through the process like I did with you lot and I dont know if the Manchester United dressing room is like that’. He said that was the making of him.
Martial’s form has been mixed in recent times (Image: PETER POWELL/EPA-EFE/REX)
“To liken himself to Martial or another player to him, it really painted a picture of what Martial was like and what his character was like because hes super-talented like Thierry was and I think his development would have been similar.
“Im not saying he would have been as good as Thierry but would have been similar if he had been in the old United dressing room with the characters like what we had in our dressing room. He certainly talks about that as a real learning lesson in his curve to get how brilliant he was.”
Martial was in relatively good form when the season was halted due to coronavirus, scoring four goals in his last six games, but it is his inconsistency which can be difficult to understand – in his six games prior to that he had netted just once.
The likes of Bruno Fernandes could lift Martial to another level (Image: PETER POWELL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
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With the leadership skills of Bruno Fernandes seemingly lifting the dressing room at United, perhaps it is just the sort of thing Martial needs to finally break the 20 goal barrier when football eventually resumes.
The time for talk of potential is over – Martial now needs to follow in Henry’s footsteps and realise his undoubted talent on a regular basis.