2017 22under22 Countdown – #11: Anthony Martial

“Martial is France’s biggest talent; in three years he’ll be worth €100m.”
– Eric Cantona

Date of Birth:  December 5, 1995
Nationality: French
Position: Striker/Left Midfielder
Club Appearances: 151 (38 goals)
International Appearances: 15 (1 goal)

*EiF Ability Rating is a representation of a combination of the player’s current ability and potential ability. It is determined by multiple rounds of voting, and then an addition of the scores given by each judge. The maximum score a player can have is 80.*

We continue our 22under22 Countdown, in which we count down the list of the top 22 players in the world born after 1995, with #11, Manchester United’s French winger Anthony Martial. Costing Manchester United an incredible €50 million, Anthony Martial is certainly one for the future. He joined the Red Devils last season from Monaco and finished the campaign, during which he was often employed as a striker, with an impressive 17 goals and 8 assists in all competitions. His impressive season earned him the #2 spot on last year’s EiF 22under22 list.

Despite his excellent debut campaign in Manchester, however, the Frenchman has struggled to find his form this season, notching just 7 goals and and 6 assists for Manchester United in all competitions. His international form has remained steady, tallying 1 goal and 1 assist in 7 appearances this season compared to his 3 assists in 8 appearances last season. However, Jose Mourinho is clearly not convinced with Martial and has started him in just 12 Premier League games this season. With the emergence of Marcus Rashford as Manchester United’s key young player, Martial has been forced to play left midfield under Mourinho as opposed to striker, the position in which he found tremendous success during his debut season at United as well as at Monaco. However, Martial is still a talented player with a long career in front of him, and he will certainly start performing at a higher level as he gains more and more experience.


MartialMartial’s fine form saw him win a host of awards in the 2015-16 term, including Premier League Player of the Month, European Golden Boy, and Manchester United Goal of the Year (Photo: Manchester United)

There is good reason why Anthony Martial, despite being a teenager at the time, cost United €50 million. With his stunning pace and superb dribbling ability, Martial is an absolute nightmare to defend against. His exquisite technical ability allows him to keep the ball glued to his foot as he twists and turns past defenders, and his strong finishing ability allowed him to record a respectable 11 Premier League goals last season. Since most defenders are slower than Martial, playing defense against him requires immense concentration and mental focus, and his ability to punish defensive errors makes him an unpleasant sight for even the world’s top defenders. As is evident in his goals tally from last season, he is composed and deadly in front of goal as well.


MartialMartial has struggled for playing time under new United boss Jose Mourinho (Photo: Goal)

Last season, Martial came in and quickly became United’s first-choice striker. However, under Jose Mourinho, he has taken on a much wider position at left midfield in order to make way for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford. Martial’s current lack of versatility has seen him struggle immensely in this new position and caused him to feature on the bench for a large portion of the current 2016/17 season. If he is to make any sort of impact under Mourinho, Martial must figure out how to be more effective out wide. Another issue with Martial seems to be mental toughness. After being a star at Monaco and being treated like royalty after his big-money transfer to Manchester United, he has now been relegated to the bench and struggles to find form as a substitute. Martial must find it deep within himself to grind out efficient performances and impress Mourinho if he is to have a future at Manchester United.

There is no doubt that Anthony Martial will have a great career; he has too much ability to simply burn out and become a mediocre player at some mediocre club. However, while he is still young, he must learn to come to terms with his poor form and find a way out of the slump he is currently in. Nevertheless, Martial remains an incredible talent with massive potential, and he will surely continue to develop his game and return to his proper form.

Previous: No. 12, PSG’s defensive gem, Presnel Kimpembe