Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag appears to have all but confirmed that Anthony Martial will be his first-choice striker moving forward, as long as the Frenchman can stay fit.
Martial has missed most of United’s season so far because of injury but has managed six goal contributions across his six appearances in all competitions – including a goal against Aston Villa on Thursday night in his first start since August.
United lack depth up front, with Cristiano Ronaldo the only real alternative ‘number nine’ since the summer departure of Edinson Cavani. Marcus Rashford can also play centrally but is best suited and more comfortable operating from a wide position.
"He plays very well in a lot of aspects of football, I’m happy with that, except his availability. But we also have others and we have played with Marcus Rashford as the nine. We also have Cristiano Ronaldo, so we have more options there," Ten Hag explained on Friday.
"It’s quite clear in my way of playing, I like the type that Anthony Martial is because he can hold the ball, he’s a target, he can link up, he can also run behind, he has speed, he can finish and he’s a good presser.
“I’m so happy he’s back now and that we can manage him and that he stays fit because he is an important part of the squad."
Martial famously hit the ground running when he first arrived at United as a teenager in 2015, finishing his debut season with 17 goals in total. The former Monaco talent went off the boil in the years that followed amid competition from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and later Romelu Lukaku, yet he outlasted both and then scored a career high 23 goals during the 2019/20 campaign.
Injuries and poor form have hampered Martial since then and it looked as his United career was coming to an end when he joined Sevilla on loan midway through last season. But Martial has now been given a fresh start under Ten Hag.