Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes French forward Anthony Martial is underrated outside Manchester United.
Martial, 23, joined Utd as a teenager in 2015 but has often struggled to make the impact expected of him when he arrived. Regardless, Solskjaer still regards him as a pivotal member of his squad.
Is Martial underrated? Five things to know…
- Martial returned to action after an eight-week absence in the Europa League on Thursday.
- He scored the winning goal from the penalty spot as United beat Partizan 1-0.
- That was Martial’s 51st goal for the Red Devils, before he made it 52 against Norwich.
- He’s often been deployed as a winger for United and has struggled for consistency.
- But Solskjaer reinstated his number nine jersey in the summer and believes he’s underrated outside the club.
That was the France international’s third goal in five games this season for Utd, who have recently seen ex-captain Roy Keane urging them to sign Spurs striker Harry Kane.
But Solskjaer insists he’s happy with the attacking options he has, believing Martial is underrated outside the club and more than capable of leading United’s forward line.
“Now Anthony is back, I am quite happy with the options I have in attack,” the Norwegian said.
“I’ve heard what some people have said about us being short of a genuine No.9, but Anthony has absolutely everything in his locker to take that role.
“He can be a target man, he’s quick, he’s technical – and one of the reasons he wanted to stay here was because I told him I saw him as a central striker.
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“I don’t think people outside the club realise how good this lad is.
“But the players in the dressing room know. When we are talking about how we are going to score goals, they say, ‘We will just give the ball to Anthony.’
“He has the confidence of his team-mates and his manager because we see him every day in training.
“What I’ve now got to do is set the team up to get the best out of him, but I think he will improve by just staying fit and playing more games.”
People have the wrong idea about Martial, says Solskjaer
Martial was stripped of the number nine shirt when Romelu Lukaku signed for Manchester United in 2017 and has often been viewed as something of a sulky character by fans and neutrals.
But Solskjaer reinstated the forward as his number nine at the start of the season and says Martial is happy at the club once again, thanks to his promise of allowing the Frenchman to be United’s main striker.
“People have the wrong idea about Anthony. He is a lad who enjoys life and always has a smile on his face,” said Solskjaer. “I know some people will be surprised by that because he is always being criticised for having poor body language.
“But he is happy again. He always wanted to be Manchester United ’s No.9 – and he’s got his number back.”
He added: “Anthony got put out on the wing by other managers and I understand why because he is so quick.
“But, for me, he is a proper No.9. He needs to be connected to the game. He has to be in the action all the time to be the best player he can.
“I am absolutely certain that, if we get the ball to him in the right positions, then he will be scoring goals for fun.”