Manchester United have returned the number nine shirt to Anthony Martial after Romelu Lukaku left the club for Inter Milan.
The 22-year-old was initially given that number ahead of the 2015/16 campaign, his first season at Old Trafford, and it preceded his finest campaign to date, with the Frenchman consistently terrorising defenders from the left and serving as the team’s primary goal threat in an otherwise dreary season under Louis van Gaal.
In 2016, the shirt was given to Zlatan Ibrahimovic – because who on earth is going to argue with that – before Lukaku then took the first between 2017 and 2019.
With the Belgian gone, though, Martial can finally reclaim what he considers to be rightfully his.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 9, 2019
This is, beyond anything, an enormous show of faith from Solskjaer in the youngster, who has not performed well since about January.
It may be just a number, but this means something to Martial – a seemingly unfeeling character most of the time. He was not happy when he lost that number nine shirt, and his form – that sheer electricity to his performances – has never quite returned since.
Supporters will hope that 2015-16 Martial will be unleashed on Sunday, when United meet Chelsea in the Premier League.