Manchester United's Anthony Martial is perhaps one of the most frustrating footballers in the game. Ironically, he's also one of the most talented.
Against Chelsea, Martial was outstanding in his first performance since returning to the number nine shirt. He was supreme for United and was an absolute nuisance for the opposition defence, scoring in a 4-0 demolition of the Blues.
Following the departure of Romelu Lukaku to Inter, the number nine shirt once again became available. And the Old Trafford side opted to give the shirt back to Martial for the 2019/20 season. Of course, the Frenchman occupied the shirt when he first joined the club back in 2015.
Fans were left infuriated following the closure of the transfer window, after an unexpectedly quiet deadline day. The sale of Lukaku prior to the deadline left United fans believing the money would be reinvested, in order to find a suitable replacement.
However, no replacement was forthcoming.
United had agreed to sign Paulo Dybala before the deal collapsed. Then came the bizarre - and somewhat desperate - decision to pursue his teammate Mario Mandzukic among others.
Here are a few reasons why that's the case.
Martial Has a Point to Prove & He Showed it Against Chelsea
United ran riot in a 4-0 victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford last week in the Premier League. It was a masterful display by United's forwards, who worked tirelessly and were ruthless in front of goal.
Marcus Rashford stole the headlines for his brace, but it was the constant pressing and direct running from Martial that was so impressive. It was a sight fans have had to wait a long time for, with his often lacklustre performances taking centre stage in more recent times. However, in his first game back with the shirt, he was truly phenomenal in the centre forward role.
He didn't give Chelsea's defenders any rest and showed a passion to play for the badge - which will have fans brimming with excitement. The 23-year-old is clearly keen to hit the ground running in the new season, and he's done exactly that.
This all comes off the back of a wonderful pre-season, in which the Red Devils went undefeated. Martial occupied the centre forward role and was very influential, being directly involved in three goals. The Frenchman also boasts the record for the most minutes played in pre-season. The club have been overwhelmed by his dedication over the summer, and his head appears to be in the right place, which is troubling for opposition defences.
He's Never Lost His Attachment to the No. 9 Shirt & Is Smiling Again
When the forward came to the club, he was handed the number nine shirt - the same one he wore at previous club Monaco.
He appears to have a real attachment to the number. His Instagram name is 'martial_9', and it remained that way even after the shirt was taken away from him and handed to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. As has become so common among modern day footballers, they often promote themselves with their own brands. And Martial is no different, with his 'am9'.
In the following months after he moved to number
But now it's a different story.
His performance against Chelsea was outstanding, and he got the goal he deserved. After scoring, he ran towards the fans with a beaming smile, before turning and pointing at his new number.
The connection is there, and he seems to be revelling in it.
Martial Had His Best Season in the No. 9 Shirt
We're not just crazy, raving about him after one game - this is a man who has previously shown his effectiveness when wearing the coveted shirt. It would be easy to neglect the fact that the Frenchman actually had a scintillating first season in Manchester. He picked up 11 goals and four assists in the league - a highly impressive return for a (then) teenager.
At this point, it would be criminal not to bring up THAT debut goal. Martial entered the field as a substitute before scoring a stunning solo goal to seal the win over arch rivals Liverpool.
After his performance against Chelsea, United fans may well be treated to greater individual brilliance from the forward this season, as well as a healthy return in terms of figures.
Any Attacking Signing Would Have Been Detrimental
Let's be real for a second - United have struggled to make successful investments in recent times. Fred for £50m was simply staggering, considering how little he has contributed. The Brazilian epitomises everything that's wrong with the scattergun approach adopted by the club.
United were then linked with a move for Mario Mandzukic. Had he come in, he may have demanded the number nine - the shirt he wore at Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich. To add to this, he's a fiery character who would demand game time, only adding to the struggles at the club. All signs pointed towards this deal having a negative impact on the team.
And most importantly, it would have been detrimental to the growth and trust Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has persistently tried to show in his youthful attacking set-up. Martial has all the ingredients to be a world class number nine, and understands the way the club wants to play.
As it is now, the Frenchman has a smile and appears hungrier than ever, having been restored to his rightful number - and in turn, he will bring much more to the role than any possible deadline day signing.
Source : 90min