Meet The New Man UTD Henry

Barely 24 hours left in the summer transfer window, an astronomical fee, a relative unknown on English shores - small wonder Manchester United's proposed signing of Anthony Martial has raised more than a few eyebrows.

Yes the fee is reported to be around the €50m mark - at least. Yes the Parisian forward has played fewer than 50 top-flight matches in France and has only 10 senior league goals to his credit.

But Martial, at 19 years of age, is considered France's next great superstar. United's handling of the deal might be described as desperate, late, even clumsy, but they are buying themselves a player of outstanding potential.

Such is his quality, Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim reportedly threatened to resign if the forward, who signed a contract running until 2019 in June to ward off Tottenham's interest, is sold.

It is not without good reason that he is considered the next Thierry Henry.

Like many of France’s brightest young stars, he is a graduate of the Lyon youth academy, where he signed up as a 14-year-old. Yet for once his talent was squandered by the Stade Gerland outfit, who sold him to Monaco for €5 million plus bonuses little over a year ago amid competition from Juventus.

Since arriving in the principality, his talents – recognised in the national set-up since playing at Under-16 level - have become increasing obvious to a wider audience. Dimitar Berbatov was the first victim of the quick attacker, who established himself as a regular starter a week before his 19th birthday at the expense of the former United man.

Athletic, strong and technically gifted, Martial quickly won the backing of head coach Jardim, whose rather pragmatic style suited the young Frenchman over the languid Bulgarian.

And it proved a shrewd move, as the youngster finished the campaign with eight goals in his final 12 appearances.

Having replaced Berbatov at Stade Louis II, he now hopes to fare rather better than his former team-mate at Old Trafford.

Big things will be expected of a youngster signed for such a big fee, but while he is capable of making an instant impression in United’s offensive corps, his addition is really for the long-term benefit of the squad. It has confirmed the expectation that he is a world star in the marking.

Comparisons with Henry, another forward to have his roots in Guadeloupe, are entirely just. He moves in the same graceful manner, is building a technical base of skills to rival France’s record scorer and thrives on playing down the channels. Only Martial will be wearing the red of Manchester United and not that of Arsenal.

Indeed, such are the comparisons, one is forced to wonder why Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger did not make a move. The exorbitant transfer fee, presumably.

Twenty years apart, the two players both started out with the same CO Ulis side. Indeed, it was on a pitch funded by the Gunners legend that Martial made his first serious strides in the game before being swept south to join Lyon, where Sonny Anderson was his inspiration.

Since then, the upward trajectory of the attacker has been formidable, though especially marked in the last 12 months. He has revealed that a visit from France boss Didier Deschamps came as something of an epiphany for him.

“I realised that talent is not enough and that I had to work more,” Martial said in January. “This clicked when Deschamps came here. He explained to me that I had talent but needed to work. My record is insufficient. I create chances but I need to score more. The coach has told me to keep the momentum going.”

The reward has been great: Martial has been called to the France squad to face Portugal and Serbia, and it would be a shock if he were not to debut.

By the end of last season, praise was being drawn from all quarters.

“The Anthony Martial I knew last year, even late in the season, and this one aren’t the same,” France Under-21 boss Pierre Mankowski explained in April.

“Firstly, when he has the ball at his feet, he makes something happen or he is fouled. Secondly, he is more concerned with defensive work. When he’s like this, he’s a very, very great player.”

A quiet figure off the field, he is a self-confessed “homebody”, for whom watching Homeland is one of his favourite pastimes. He is also a religious person and prays before every match, after listening to music – French and US rap, and zouk. After games, his first text message is reserved for his girlfriend.

A grounded character, he has matured on the field greatly in a short space of time, and appears ready to make such a giant step in his career. It would surprise no-one if he muscled his way into the France squad for Euro 2016, but equally he must be given time to settle after such an enormous move.

United have on their hands a weapon, once fully firing, capable of developing into a world-class figure for years to come. His fee may look large now, but unlike Radamel Falcao, who made the jump from Monaco to Old Trafford exactly a year ago, Martial will be no flop.

Culled from