Martial becomes the preferred No. 9 for Manchester United as Ten Hag promises to stay, reports Chris Wheeler… The Frenchman has been a breath of fresh air despite Ronaldo’s cloud over this tour.
Things can change quickly in this game, though. Days after Martial left for Spain, Mason Greenwood was arrested and has since been unavailable. Edinson Cavani left Old Trafford at the end of the season, and top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo has yet to return amid concerns over his future.
Martial rejoined United this summer and has suddenly been propelled from an outcast to the club’s No 1 striker on their tour of Thailand and Australia.
From looking like he was on his way, the 26-year-old is now nailed on to stay after Erik ten Hag ruled out the possibility of him being sold.
Even if Ronaldo was to return to training next week — which seems unlikely — Martial is set to start the season up front after seizing his second chance with both hands.
He has scored in all three games on tour so far against Liverpool, Melbourne, and Crystal Palace, and added two assists. That’s as many goals as Martial scored last season — one each for United, Sevilla, and France.
If Ronaldo has cast a cloud over this tour then Martial has been a breath of fresh air. In the past, his body language has left a lot to be desired on and off the pitch, but sources describe a much more cheerful individual in camp on this tour.
There is a video on the club’s website of Martial cracking up with laughter as he takes part in a staring contest with his France teammate Raphael Varane.
In training at the WACA in Perth on Thursday, he looked like United’s most polished performer as Ten Hag’s squad trained in front of thousands of fans.
On days like that, it is easy to wonder at Martial’s talents but also question just how close he has come to let them go to waste.
After moving to Old Trafford from Monaco in a deal worth up to £58million in 2015, Martial was the club’s top scorer with 17 goals but lost his way after that, eclipsed by the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cavani, and Ronaldo.
He has frustrated a succession of managers at United. Martial fell out with Jose Mourinho and was fined after going AWOL from the club’s tour of the US in 2018 to be at the birth of his baby boy in Paris.
Mourinho wanted to sell him but was blocked by the board who thought he could be as good as Kylian Mbappe.