According to French sources, Manchester United attacker Anthony Martial wants to leave Old Trafford this summer.
The French international has been linked with moves away from Manchester in the past so this is hardly a surprise. According to the Metro (I know, I know) United could be persuaded to sell for a fee in the range of £60m with Juventus, Atletico, and Spurs lining up as potential suitors. Chelsea has also been linked in other reports. That said, the Red Devils reportedly would prefer selling Martial abroad rather than to a domestic rival.
Martial is an Ideal Attacker for Tottenham’s System
Martial is a versatile attacking player, comfortable working on the left wing or leading the line. He has even played on the right or in the number 10 role at times this season for United, according to WhoScored. He possesses excellent pace and is a capable finisher in front of goal.
In all these ways, he has a few qualities that Mauricio Pochettino values and others that his club badly needs. It is not hard to imagine Martial comfortably slotting into the flexible attacking shape Pochettino prefers, playing sometimes as a winger, sometimes in a narrower inside forward role, and sometimes leading the line should Harry Kane suffer an injury. Indeed, in many ways Martial’s skillset overlaps a lot with that of Son Heung-Min.
The other intriguing thing is that Martial has actually had a very good year at United, despite having getting inconsistent playing time under Jose Mourinho. According to UnderStat, his combined xG/xA per 90 minutes is .74, ninth best in the Premier League and tops among Manchester United players who have been with the club all season—Romelu Lukaku is at .66 and Jesse Lingard at .6. The only players ahead of Martial are Sergio Aguero, Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Alvaro Morata, Son Heung-Min, and Alexis Sanchez.
There is one other reason Spurs should make a move for Martial: Son Heung-Min still has to complete two years of military service before age 30. Should Spurs release Son to play for the South Korean national team in this August’s Asian Games, it is possible that the Koreans would win gold and, with it, an exemption from military service for Sonny. Failing that, however, Son will have to complete his military service and this would take him away from Spurs for two seasons. In that event, having a player like Martial around would be vital.
Why won’t this move happen?
Obviously there are lots of answers to that question. If United prefer a non-domestic destination for Martial, it is likely that Atletico and Juve can pony up enough cash to make the deal happen. Indeed, United is interested in Atletico’s current French winger/striker hybrid, Antoine Griezmann, so it is not hard to imagine the two clubs negotiating separate deals that essentially amount to the two players swapping clubs. If a domestic move does become necessary, it is probable that Chelsea could pay a higher fee and better wages than Tottenham. And, of course, Tottenham has suddenly found themselves with surprisingly good depth in attackers—Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela, Lucas Moura, and Moussa Sissoko can all play in the attacking roles of the 4-2-3-1. Even assuming Sissoko is sold this summer, it’s possible that there Martial may not be interested in coming to Spurs as a rotation player competing with Moura and Lamela to backup the regular front four.
That being said, it is all but certain that Chelsea will not be in the Champions League next season and Spurs will. Moreover, the new stadium should give the club greater financial resources. So perhaps the wage gap relative to Chelsea will be smaller and that, combined with the promise of Champions League football, would be enough to lure Martial to North London.