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Time for Anthony Martial to take the next step

Saturday 26th August 2017
It's Anthony Martial's third full season with Manchester United. His first was a breakthrough campaign. The Frenchman must do it again to prove he belongs.

For Martial, a starting place in the United lineup isn't everything. His place with Les Bleus in Russia is also at stake. His 6' frame, speed, and general play shows demonstrate the requisite tools for success. Maybe the number 9 shirt exerted too much pressure. Having now been given the number 11, formerly hung in Ryan Giggs' stall, he is showing the belief and freedom to express himself as the Welshman did. Maybe he still could be the next Thierry Henry.

Martial arrived as a deadline day signing from Monaco for an eyebrow-raising £36 million. Add-ons potentially could bring it to £58 million. His debut goal against Liverpool was a sight to remember, especially after Benteke's superb overhead kick.
En route to being United's top scorer in the league (11 goals) and all competitions (14), he provided Louis van Gaal's stodgy system with much needed imagination. He and Marcus Rashford, now competing for the same place, were the two bright spots in an underwhelming side. Martial offered another glimpse into his big-game potential with an assist and ice-cool finish in the 2016 FA Cup semi-final.

The next season, LvG was out. In came Jose Mourinho. It was quickly established no player whose name wasn't Wayne Rooney or Zlatan Ibrahimovic was immune from criticism. Poor fitness, not tracking back in defence, anything could put one in the firing line. Martial was singled out on numerous occasions. His quiet demeanour and serious expression were sufficient to cause speculation. Links to various European clubs were mooted throughout the season.

In addition, the youngster became a regular on the bench. This season, he has already demonstrated a desire to change that. He wants to stay and fight for his spot.

A player like him in a mood like that can only be good news for United, bad for everyone else. Martial knows he must step up. This must be the season he proves he is a world-class star at club and international level. It is the only way to guarantee a spot on that plane to Russia.
Martial has nine months to impress. Didier Deschamps already has a selection headache. Martial can make it a migraine with consistent performances like his two impact cameos to open United's campaign. Two goals and an assist in 26 minutes is an eye-catching beginning. Claiming the starting role and contributing double figures in both goals and assists will cement his spot in the French squad. Stellar performances on the European stage against his rivals for that spot will help even more.
Tyrone Chambers

I know most people either love them or hate them but I a massive fan of Manchester United. I'm not afraid to speak the truth. Writing it as it is, bold enough to say it in the way no manager or player could say in public. I write about all things football but I love music as well, both listening and playing, keen drummer.

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