Anthony Martial’s improved form and successful adjustment to Jose Mourinho’s demands have changed the Manchester United manager’s thinking on his transfer plans, and it is now believed that it has finally “clicked” for the young French star.
The 21-year-old scored the brilliant third goal in United’s 4-2 win away to Watford on Tuesday night, to bring his tally to eight for the season in just 20 games, the same amount he got after 42 appearances across the entirety of 2016-17.
It was a frustration with Martial’s form, and an incomplete application of Mourinho’s tactical requirements, that partly led the Portuguese to pursue Internazionale’s Ivan Perisic in the summer.
Some United sources maintained that the manager would have even considered the idea of exchanging Martial at that point, such was his desire to get Perisic for an ideal he had for the team.
While that was a non-starter, and key figures at the club would never have sanctioned the French star’s exit, Mourinho remained irritated by the failure to purchase the Croatian up until the last few weeks.
The United manager had wanted Perisic to supply crosses for Romelu Lukaku in a more direct role, and had been re-assessing his options with the expectation being that the club would look to sign a similar player - alongside a marquee attacker - in one of the next two windows, but Martial’s supreme form has now greatly influenced his plans.
It says much that the Watford appearance was the first time that Martial had started four successive games for United since Mourinho’s first month in the job. That reflects the manager’s growing trust in the player, but also how the player has adapted to his role.
A new confidence has also been shown in the ruthless quality of his finishing, as well displayed against Watford.
A wider feeling at United is that Martial could be one of the best players in the world in the next few years, and potentially a star as big as Paul Pogba.
His form has also played a part in the cooling of interest in his other French international teammate, Antoine Griezmann as well as Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale.
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