The first transfer window of 2017 is upon us and the gossip columns that have been lining most football websites are going into overdrive as clubs seek to find that one player who could make a positive impact on the remainder of their season.
Manchester United have been linked with Benfica’s Swedish centre-back Victor Lindelof in a deal that reportedly could cost the Red Devils between £30-40 million. It should be noted that United and Benfica have a history with over-hyped transfer dealings that, ultimately, fail to materialise.
Nicolas Gaitan is a name that most supporters will know very well indeed having read all about his apparent transfer to Old Trafford year-after-year before the Argentinian winger signed for Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2016 in a €25 million deal.
United fans shouldn’t get too excited just yet about the Lindelof deal as most of the rumours are coming from Portugal which may well mean that this transfer saga might end up being a situation similar to that of Gaitan, all talk and not a lot of action.
Away from the potential incomings at United and towards the possible outgoings in January, one particular rumour stands out amongst them all: Anthony Martial is said to be considering his future at Old Trafford and may be on his way to Sevilla.
The highly expected transfers of Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis, coupled with the possibility that Ashley Young may join the duo through the exit door, are not surprising given the trio’s lack of first-team involvement and their general lack of ability to perform well enough. Martial, on the other hand, is a surprising addition to the list of possible exits.
The rumours Martial is not currently content with life on the bench at Old Trafford have been mainly voiced by his agent who has confirmed that he and his young French client are interested in exploring the possibility of a move to Sevilla to get more first-team football.
It should be emphasised that these rumours are in no way concrete and, it is understood, that United have no interest in letting Martial go in any capacity. In other words, it is the usual fluff from a player and his agent that have been pounced upon by gossip columnists.
United paid approximately £37 million to acquire the talents of Martial and could eventually pay his former club AS Monaco nearly £60 million if certain clauses are met, an enormous investment in a player so young and inexperienced.
Martial, at just 20 years of age, is a huge asset not only to the team on the pitch but also to the businessmen in the boardroom; they are not about to let him go permanently and there are also not many clubs in world football who could afford to pay his wages for a prospective loan deal.
The concern about this story surfacing is that it demonstrates a lack of fortitude to ride out the hard times and to come back fighting. Martial, it seems, has got the hump.
Martial has had a tough start to his second season in Manchester having burst onto the scene in the 2015-16 season.
The young Frenchman made a blistering start to life at Old Trafford, scoring what was one of the goals of the season against Liverpool in a 3-1 home victory. Martial would go on to score a very impressive 11 league goals in his debut season while scoring six more in other competitions, including the goal that sent United into the FA Cup final against Everton.
After a superb break-through debut season, many believed that he would only get better but, after a disappointing Euros (where he struggled to get into the French first XI), his second season has begun poorly with inconsistent form and just the one league goal to his name in 11 appearances.
The revelations about his private life (which we will leave to the showbiz columnists) have been a distraction for the 20 year-old and have clearly affected his game, but it is also concerning to see that he is becoming too predictable on the pitch with his move to cut in from the left onto his right foot occurring too often, allowing defending teams to work out how to nullify him effectively.
Both Martial and Marcus Rashford have seemingly stalled after their rapid rise last season but this was to be expected of players who are only at the beginning of their careers.
It was Louis van Gaal, who must be credited with bringing these players into his squad, who consistently reminded fans and pundits that consistency of performances in young players is something that is not always guaranteed and we are seeing his warning being played out this season under Mourinho.
The difference between the two players is that on the one hand Rashford, who is also finding himself on the bench for most games, has started on many occasions this season that he is excited to be learning from experienced players like Zlatan; while Martial’s agent has attempted to spread rumours that his client is not happy at Old Trafford and is considering a move away.
Martial would be better advised to take a leaf out of his younger colleague’s book by embracing the opportunity to learn from more experienced players and by working hard to improve his game to force his way back into his manager’s first-team plans instead of sulking on the sidelines.