Manchester United’s Premier League season has hit a few bumps in the road in recent weeks, with three draws in their last four games putting an end to any realistic hopes of winning the title.
United have lacked a cutting edge in front of goal to kill those teams off and while the imminent return of Edinson Cavani does give them a focal point in attack, where does that leave Anthony Martial, the man currently earning a massive £250k-per-week?
The Frenchman had a fine 2019/20 season after scoring 23 times in 48 appearances across all competitions and played a key role in United’s late surge into third place.
But frustratingly, the Red Devils’ number nine has failed to build on that momentum this season and scored just seven times in 32 games to date, with ex legendary skipper Roy Keane believing he has a lack of “love for the game.”
Martial’s average SofaScore match rating has decreased from 7.11 in 2019/20 to 6.82 this season, highlighting that the forward’s standards have declined.
Should Solskjaer sell Martial?
His modest score of 6.8 in the recent 3-1 win over Newcastle United fell some way short of the numbers from Bruno Fernandes (8.2), Daniel James (7.2) and Marcus Rashford (7.8), despite him being deployed in the main centre-forward role from where he had so much success last season.
He seems to have lost his way in a United shirt, and despite netting a brace in the 9-0 mauling of Southampton, that was the only time Martial had scored for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in his last nine Premier League appearances.
What needs to happen?
Martial’s underwhelming displays leave little room for encouragement that the Frenchman can turn around his season.
While the arrival of Alex Telles has seemingly pushed Luke Shaw to up his game in a red shirt, the acquisition of Cavani seems to have had the opposite effect on Martial.
A heat map on SofaScore shows Martial more often veering towards the left in a bid to take more of the ball, whereas this same indicator of movement shows that Cavani is more inclined to stay in the penalty area and give the team that much-needed focal point.
Apart from last season, Martial has never really scored on a consistent basis for United since his arrival from Monaco in 2015. His best campaign from a goalscoring perspective before last season came in 2015/16, when he found the net 17 times in 49 appearances across all competitions. Since then, his goalscoring totals in the following three seasons were eight, 11 and 12.
For someone whose best position is supposedly centre-forward, those numbers are not what Manchester United need to take themselves to the next level and to challenge for the game’s best prizes.
It may now be time for Solskjaer to put the Frenchman on the bench and use this as an opportunity to give Cavani the nod and afford Mason Greenwood further chances to impress and learn.