Manchester United: With Cavani and Greenwood in shape, what does the future hold for Anthony Martial?

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Edinson Cavani’s new contract and Mason Greenwood’s hot streak could be bad news for Anthony Martial … the Frenchman is entering his peak years, but he may need a fresh start away from Man United

  • Anthony Martial hasn’t played since March due to a nasty knee injury
  • In his absence, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood have thrived at the front
  • Cavani’s one-year extension means that Martial won’t be a fixture next season
  • Manchester United does not want to get rid of him, but he is now getting a team role
  • Now at 25, Martial must make a decision about his future as he enters his prime

One Manchester United player unable to celebrate his excellent form is Anthony Martial – the one-time child prodigy who never fully exploited his outstanding potential.

While Bruno Fernandes, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood are critically acclaimed for helping United reach the Europa League final and playing 14 unbeaten Premier League games before losing to Leicester this week, Martial broke up with a knee injury.

He has not played for United since a disappointing 3-1 FA Cup defeat in Leicester in March and Greenwood’s progress, coupled with Cavani’s signing of another one-year extension this week, means the chances of the Frenchman next season will likely be limited.

Antony Martial has fallen into the pecking order at Manchester United and is injured

Edinson Cavani signed a one-year contract extension with Manchester United on Monday

Mason Greenwood has found his shooting boots again in the past month - particularly during Martial's absence

Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood are in great shape – and both will play big roles next year

It all means a fall out of favor for Martial who came on the scene at the age of 19 when he scored a sensational debut goal against Liverpool following his £ 36 million move from Monaco.

Now that he’s 25, he’s really at the crossroads, and the truth is, he struggled even before his latest medical setback. He had only scored seven goals in 36 games, compared to 23 last season, and even the most ardent Martial admirer would have to admit that United looked better without him.

The big question is what happens next, because in theory Martial has the talent it takes to be successful at Old Trafford. Fast, skilled and a decent finisher, it can be unplayable on its day. The problem is that those days are not frequent enough for a team looking to win the Premier League next season.

ANTHONY MARTIAL IN 2020-21

Appearance: 36

Goals: 7

Assists: 8

Yellow / Red: 1/1

“We continue to challenge him because there are always players in and around the team and outside the club who would like to be number 9 for Manchester United,” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer warned his attacker last season.

Since then, Cavani has come in and made a big impact and United has also been linked with Erling Haaland and Harry Kane.

United does not want to get rid of Martial.

They put a lot of time and money into the Frenchman because he has the ‘wow factor’ ideally suited to perform at The Theater of Dreams.

When Jose Mourinho felt he was redundant, United handed the player a new contract in a clear letter of intent.

Still, there is a realization that if Martial is to stay, he will now have to settle for a squad role rather than being a mainstay of Solskjaer’s starting XI.

Martial's fall from grace is a long way from his memorable debut goal against Liverpool in 2015

Martial’s fall from grace is a long way from his memorable debut goal against Liverpool in 2015

The attacker was sent off against Tottenham in October and had a relatively bad season

The attacker was sent off against Tottenham in October and had a relatively bad season

In that regard, he should replicate Nani, the gifted Portuguese winger who played with United for eight years but averaged just 14 Premier League starts per season.

As an impact sub or replacement when Marcus Rashford, Greenwood or Cavani need a rest, Martial can cut the mustard. But his inconsistency means he’s never going to be the dependable go-to guy every week.

He arrived at United as a winger and has since fluctuated between wide and center forward, without being fully convincing in either position.

When France won the World Cup in 2018, he did not make the selection, although he has since been recalled by Didier Deschamps.

Martial has a role at United if he's willing to be a substitute under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Martial has a role at United if he’s willing to be a substitute under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

“I see the talent, but that’s not enough with a club that wants to challenge for the greatest honor,” said Premier League record scorer Alan Shearer.

‘I just don’t see the despair, hunger, desire and know-how to be a No. To be 9, to score as many goals as he should. ‘

Martial has a future at United – if he’s willing to contribute part-time. But he is entering the peak years of his career and if he wants to become a regular striker somewhere, he will probably have to move on.

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