Introducing Anthony Martial
As ever, transfer deadline didn’t let us down this summer when it came to excitement, tension and shocks. Albeit the new closing time of 6pm, the thoughts of football fans nationwide were cast on the hectic swapping bedlam that is the climax to the transfer window. However, no one could’ve prepared for the biggest move of the day, Anthony Martial to Manchester United…
Born in Massy, France on the 5th December 1995 Anthony Martial’s rise to footballing fame saw its crucial moment when the then 14 year old was scouted by French giants Lyon. After eight years playing for local team CO Les Ullis, Martial made his big move on the windy path to becoming a professional footballer.
Working his way through the youth teams at Les Gones, the 5’ 11” forward displayed himself as a natural born goal scorer during his second season for the club’s under-17 side. Martial thundered in a monumental 32 goals in only 21 games, potentially the greatest goal to game ratio I have ever encountered in all my time with YJA. Such a phenomenal campaign saw him called up to the French under-17 squad for the 2012 European Championships.
Moreover, despite only being 16 years old, Martial was swiftly rewarded with a spot in the Lyon first team for the 2012-2013 season. However, the young Frenchman struggled to claw his way to a place in the starting eleven making only four appearances, all of his three Ligue 1 caps came as a substitute.
As a result, only one season into being a senior footballer, Martial didn’t hang around and was snapped up by the economic brutality of AS Monaco. Potentially the most low-key purchase in a 2013 financial tsunami offensive by the principality club, Martial made his move relatively unnoticed. Despite this transfer going largely under the radar, a fee of €5 million is far from little for a 17 year old.
Martial’s inaugural campaign at the Stade Louis II saw the young striker play deputy to the mercurial Colombian hit man Radamel Falcao, however the prodigy was handed more game time than he had experienced at Lyon. With more freedom in the squad Martial made a culpable 15 appearances in 2013-14 with two goals.
Although Falcao proved the main man at the club, Martial helped AS Monaco to second place in Ligue 1 and a spot in the Champions League. Furthermore, his debut French league goal against Rennes in November 2013 proved a special moment as well as a smart left footed finish.
The next season proved a defining year for Martial as events over the summer had seen the youngster handed a fantastic opportunity in the team. Falcao’s departure on loan at Manchester United saw a chasm left in the Monaco side, one ready to be filled with fresh young talent.
Now established in the squad, Martial made a healthy 46 appearances for Monaco in only his second season for the club and still in his teenage years. The French forward guided the team to the Champions League quarter finals and another impressive finish in the league. Despite being played out wide in some games, Martial’s goal haul continued to swell with twelve overall in a potent final campaign.
So, that takes us up to this summer. Anthony Martial’s rise from youthful obscurity at Lyon to a mature goal scorer at Monaco is certainly impressive but the youngster remains a largely unknown quantity.
After the sales of Robin van Persie to Fenerbache and the club’s decision to not sign on Falcao permanently, Manchester United rolled onto transfer deadline in dire need of a forward. Speculation tied the club to big name strikers such as Edinson Cavani and Robert Lewandowski, however no bids ever materialised.
In the end it wasn’t a big name player at all to fill the void, but the footballing world became swiftly introduced to the name Anthony Martial. It became revealed the night before deadline day that Manchester United had agreed a gargantuan fee of £36 million for the 19 year old with his club Monaco. The deal took everyone by surprise, many fans outside of French football had never heard of this mysterious French striker.
Less than a day later and the deal was confirmed, Martial had signed a four year contract at Old Trafford and became the most expensive teenage footballer of all time. The hearty move toppled the previous record of PSG’s purchase of Lucas Moura in 2013 for £32 million.
With Wayne Rooney struggling in the early games of the season, many Red Devils fans were expecting Louis van Gaal to spend big, he certainly did but not on whom people expected. Martial inherited the squad number ‘9’ from his ex-team mate Radamel Falcao, before leaving Manchester again to join up with the French senior team for the first time.
Even more astonishing has been the sudden hype orbiting Martial to a point where the transfer may rise to £54 million and United will owe Monaco a further £20 million if the French forward ever wins the Ballon d’Or. Therefore it’s fair to say that those in the business certainly rate the ex-Monaco man and the move shows van Gaal’s ambition of a young squad in the future.
So, whilst West Ham spent big and Saido Berahino vowed never to play for West Brom again, there was no doubt regarding the biggest talking point on deadline day. With a lead price tag and the physicality of the Premiership to come, it is thus far unknown whether this relatively undiscovered 19 year old will truly live up to the hype. After all, Martial wouldn’t be the first young prodigy to crash and burn and if things turn pear-shaped at United, the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ could swiftly become a nightmare.
Either way, this Frenchman’s exciting narrative of rising to success is inspirational, but only if the youngster succeeds will anybody truly remember it…
Kobe, YJA Senior Sports Correspondent
Priory Academy LSST