Anthony Martial has told Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal that he would prefer to play as the lead striker, and has warned his opponents that he will be even better next season.
The 19-year-old arrived at Old Trafford last summer in a deal worth £36m, though that fee can rise to as much as £58m depending on a number of performance-based bonuses.
Having been signed by United under enormous expectation given they failed in their pursuits of Gareth Bale and Thomas Muller among others, Martial was not able to make the impact many fans had hoped, though he has recently shown much better form in front of goal and has helped keep United in the hunt for fourth place in the Premier League.
The former Monaco forward has scored 12 goals this season along with laying on six assists for his team-mates, but while Wayne Rooney’s injury appeared to afford Martial a central position, the emergence of Marcus Rashford has seen him shifted out to the left flank once again.
Martial admitted that he is willing to play wherever Van Gaal sees fit to deploy him, but did stress that he wants himself to feature through the middle in order to give himself the best chance of getting on the scoresheet.
“I prefer to play up front. But if the coach puts me on the wing then that means it is better for the team and for me that is the most important thing,” Martial said.
“I am working very hard every day in training [to become a better finisher] and it is true that sometimes when I play as the number nine, I have not scored but it is like that.
“With time, I will progress even more and I will be more mature to score even more goals.”
Martial did acknowledge that his first year in the Premier League could have gone better despite scoring against Liverpool on his debut, but he believes he has adjusted accordingly to the rigours of the English game and feels that the fear of its physicality has disappeared.
“I think I could have done better,” he added. “There were some chances that I missed, but I think next year it will be much better.
“At the beginning, I was scared because I had heard a lot about the intensity of the English game.
“But I realised during the matches that I was able to keep up, and I was really very happy about that because as a youngster I struggled to finish games — at the age of 17 they said I needed to work on my endurance.”
Martial is currently with the French national team and came off the bench at half-time to replace Antoine Griezmann in the 3-2 victory over the Netherlands last Friday, and the United striker could start Tuesday’s international friendly against Russia to further boost his Euro 2016 chances.
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