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Can Anthony Martial kick-start his campaign with France?

Can Anthony Martial kick-start his campaign with France?

When Anthony Martial arrived in English football for a record £36 million, a lot was expected from the then 19-year-old. Joining Manchester United from Monaco, his initial fee made him the most expensive teenager ever and he hit the ground running, netting 17 goals from 49 appearances across all competitions. An iconic goal against Liverpool on his Red Devils debut, as well as a winning FA Cup semi-final strike, helped him earn the acclaim of the supporters. Now in his seventh season at Old Trafford, the forward has only hit these heights once since. Football expert Aarron Pullen takes a look at Martial's recent form and if the French International has what it takes to hit the heights again.


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Floundering For France

Perhaps this inconsistency won’t come as a surprise when you consider he has suffered multiple injuries, had issues with Jose Mourinho that denied him regular game time, and had his squad number snatched away just to please Zlatan Ibrahimovic. 

He managed to earn the No9 shirt back, survived Mourinho’s stint and remained injury-free during 2019-20, where he had his best season to date, with 23 goals in 48 appearances in all competitions.

The last 12 months, however, have really taken their toll on the Frenchman.

He lost his head in a 6-1 hammering by Spurs, lost his battle with Edinson Cavani for a starting place up front and lost his place in the France squad after a knee injury picked up on international duty in March.

This run of poor form and luck has prompted plenty of rumours surrounding his United future. Despite this, Didier Deschamps has brought him back into the French fold for the Nations League finals in Italy.

This might just be the confidence boost Martial needs to reignite his career. After all, he scored his first goal of the season in the match that immediately followed the announcement of his inclusion.

Deschamps’ rumoured falling out with Olivier Giroud has left the door open for Martial, despite the AC Milan forward being just five goals away from equalling Thierry Henry's record tally of 51 Les Bleus goals.

There is no promise that the United man will start for the World Cup holders, having played a full match for France just twice in his 30 caps.

The 25-year-old averaged just 47.9 minutes of football per match across his 28 other international appearances, which would help explain why he has only scored two goals for his country.

Martial 2.0

Martial is not the same player that left Monaco six years ago.

When he first burst onto the scene in the North West, he was quick and nimble. He created plenty of chances and was never afraid to run directly at the opposition defence.

This season, in his limited 154 minutes of Premier League playing time, he has yet to create a chance and only completed three take-ons.

No longer the slight teenager he once was, Martial has bulked up which has sacrificed some of his pace, as he looks to develop into more of a hold-up player, the role that Giroud has played so well for France.

With so much of his career still ahead of him, including his prime years, Martial still has a chance to light it up on the big stage. 

The portion of United fans that have backed him since his debut season will be hoping that a good international break could be just the springboard he needs to get back into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans.

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