Manchester United are expected to consider offers for Anthony Martial this summer, with his long-term prospects at Old Trafford in doubt after he took a step backwards last season.
A long-term ‘number nine’ is part of United’s transfer plans, even if it has to wait until next summer. In the meantime, Edinson Cavani recently agreed a 12-month contract extension and has overtaken Martial as the primary centre forward in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad.
United have paid around £51m for Martial, with a £36m up-front fee in 2015 since topped up add-ons triggered when he scored his 25th Premier League goal and made his 25th senior appearance for France. The remaining add-on in the original deal was for winning the Ballon d’Or, which might not have seemed so ridiculous when he was 19 but looks certain to now go unfulfilled.
The 25-year-old is clearly not a bad player. He scored 23 goals in all competitions during the 2019/20 campaign and his peak should still be yet to come.
Given that context, United would ideally sell Martial for upwards of £60m or £70m – the Old Trafford club will also owe Monaco half of any capital gain they make from selling. A £60m sale, for example, would see Monaco pocket £4.5m of the fee.
But with depth an issue last season, United aren’t desperate to get rid of core first-team players and would only sell Martial if an offer comes in that meets their ‘realistic valuation’. He may not be a starter but the club has no reason to let him leave on the cheap. Similarly, letting him leave on loan presents no obvious financial upside because he would need replacing immediately.
Poor form and a depressed transfer market will limit what United could expect to be offered as well as the number of clubs with the financial means to pay that much. But a handful of teams are likely to be in the market for a striker this summer and could still have cash to spend.
Here’s a rundown of clubs who might be in a position to make a bid…
There is still a chance Inter could lose Lautaro Martinez this summer, which would put them in the market for a forward with a handsome budget if they are to sell the Argentine.
90min revealed in May that Manchester City and Chelsea retain interest in Martinez and could move for him if they miss out on other targets like Harry Kane or Erling Haaland. Liverpool are also exploring the possibility of strengthening in attacking areas and are another potential suitor.
Martinez has been a significant part of Inter’s success over the last couple of years and replacing him would be a must, with any prospective signing to be a partner for Romelu Lukaku.
Martial has seen the way that his former United colleague has reached new heights in Serie A and there is every chance a similar fresh start in Italy could do the same for him.
PSG will need a forward if Kylian Mbappe is sold this summer and, while Martial is a step down from the generational talent, the chance to start afresh back home in France, in his home city, in a league known to be more favourable than the rest of Europe’s top five leagues, could be attractive.
If PSG are only going after Martial because Mbappe is gone, money won’t be an issue either.
The French giants are interested in Harry Kane and the Tottenham star is open to a move abroad, with PSG a favoured destination. However, even though Spurs would rather see Kane go overseas than join a Premier League rival, such as Manchester City, they are still determined not to sell at all.
That means PSG may have to look elsewhere and Martial would be a cheaper alternative.
Everton have spent vast sums in recent seasons trying and failing to bridge the gap to the Premier League’s top clubs and stand at another critical juncture this summer following the departure of manage Carlo Ancelotti at the end of last season.
Six of the current Toffees squad feature in their top seven most expensive signings of all time and if majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri is willing to gamble big again, the club might consider Martial as a missing piece of the puzzle to get them to where they want to be.
For Everton, even just punching at their weight, rather than below it, would be an achievement after finishing 10th and 12th in the last two Premier League seasons.
Even though they really don’t want to, if Tottenham are forced to sell Harry Kane ahead of the new season they will potentially have an enormous budget to reinvest into the squad and sign a replacement for their top goalscorer and talisman.
As soon as it was reported that Kane wants to leave Spurs, Martial’s name was rumoured as player that the north London club had identified as a potential target, along with Gabriel Jesus.
Until a bizarre 2020/21 season that Martial and any potential new club will hope was a temporary blip, the Frenchman had proven that when he starts games as a ‘number nine’ he scores goals.
That chance now looks to have passed him by in Manchester, but it is no coincidence that 2019/20 was a standout season when he had previously been starting fewer than half of the club’s league matches in 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 and playing second fiddle to others.
Any team that starts Martial regularly and creates chances for him should massively benefit.