Man United Are Aiming To Solve Their Anthony Martial Conundrum This Summer

Rasmus Hojlund is the front-runner to replace him
11:00, 04 Jul 2023

Anthony Martial is one of the long-standing conundrums of English football. He is a player who peaked during the pandemic, when the rest of us were perfecting our banana bread and doing Zoom quizzes. It remains the only season in which he has exceeded 20 goals, stretching back to when he burst onto the scene with that Tyler-soundtracked goal against Liverpool in 2015.

Yet Martial remains a player many are keen to make apologies for. While a large portion of United supporters see him as workshy and inconsistent, his online cabal of fans insist he is a world class centre forward. “Martial FC” bristle when his rather meagre 62 Premier League goals in 196 games are brought up. There’s always an excuse. Whether it is the fact he has occasionally been deployed out wide or the fact losing his cherished number nine shirt for a period stifled his muse.


What is becoming increasingly clear as the player nears his 28th birthday is that he quite simply isn’t good enough to be United’s primary striker. The COVID-19 season aside, he never has been. A very adept finisher capable of lightning bursts of speed, he is guilty of playing in flashes. Wonderful one week, lethargic the next. Fine for a back-up, but undercooked if you’re competing with teams that boast the likes of Erling Haaland or Harry Kane up front.

This is a fact that manager Erik ten Hag has acknowledged this summer. The club are openly pursuing a first-choice striker to take the burden away from the France international. Whether Martial will accept a role as understudy to any signing is unclear, but what is obvious is that new blood is needed.

The fast-moving conveyor belt of transfers has thrown up Rasmus Hojlund as United’s reported target to fill this role. He certainly ticks the new blood box at a positively cherubic 20 years old. One does wonder if he is the sort of player to shoulder the responsibility for scoring the majority of the Red Devils’ goals. While Hojlund boasts a perfect six in six for Denmark, he only managed nine in 32 Serie A games for Atalanta last season.


If Hojlund’s profile doesn’t scream “world class striker”, his fee certainly does. Atalanta are apparently seeking between €60 million and €70 million for his services. It is a bold price to pay for a player who hasn’t broken double figures in a league season. But it would be an investment in potential and an indication of United shifting their way of doing business.

The Red Devils often hold on for a player to prove himself elsewhere in the league before swooping. They had tracked their first summer signing, Mason Mount, since his 2018 loan to Vitesse Arnhem. But the Old Trafford club waited until he was an England international and Champions League winner with rivals Chelsea before swooping for a £55 million upfront fee.

Their back-up midfield target, Brighton & Hove Albion’s Moises Caicedo, was also a player who had spent years on their radar. The Seagulls landed him from under United’s nose for a fee believed to be around €6 million in 2021. Now a price over ten times that amount is being quoted for the Ecuador international.

Signing Hojlund before he becomes a superstar may be a wise move for this reason. But it isn’t the only option the club has considered. Eintracht Frankfurt’s gifted Randal Kolo Muani has been discussed. Reports in Portugal suggest Ten Hag is exploring the possibility of signing 30-year-old Porto forward Mehdi Taremi. There has also been talk of Goncalo Ramos from Porto’s rivals, Benfica. 

But Hojlund seems to be the potential signing with the most concrete links. In many ways, his signing mirrors that of Martial. A player signed for a high fee based largely on potential rather than accomplishment. An attempt to stay ahead of the curve and sign the next superstar rather than an existing one. It didn’t quite work for Martial, though there has been some memorable moments. Ten Hag will be hoping the formula is more effective this time if he does go down the Hojlund.

united to win the 23-24 epl: 10/1*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

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