Manchester United are reportedly on the verge of making a £36 million move for Monaco forward, Anthony Martial. I’ll repeat that again: Manchester United are reportedly on the verge of making a £36m move for Monaco forward, Anthony Martial. No, it still doesn’t make much sense, but then neither does Ed Woodward, apparently.
With Javier Hernandez on the verge of his own £12 million move to Bayer Leverkusen, Wayne Rooney remains Man Utd’s only senior striker: a preposterous scenario for a club its size; not least because the England striker is going through quite the rough patch at present.
Louis Van Gaal’s side have managed just three goals in their four Premier League games so far: a worryingly low tally for a side with aspirations of a tilt at this season’s title. In essence, United need goals and they need them quick. Sunday’s surprise 2-1 defeat at Swansea underlined a number of the current squad’s deficiencies, none more so than the forward department.
The post-match press conference was lively, too, with Van Gaal storming out early, seemingly upset with the majority of the questions being transfer-centric. He’d made it clear it was Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, they would have to deal with – back to him in a second.
For what it’s worth, Anthony Martial is a fine young player: supremely gifted and yet still very raw. Quick and skilful with the ability to play up front or on the wing, the 19-year-old has long being heralded as the new Thierry Henry. He is by no means the finished article, though, and has only managed 11 goals in 49 appearances for Monaco.
Splashing such a figure – reportedly £36 million with higher sums touted elsewhere – smacks not just of desperation, but of utter incompetence and confusion on Woodward’s part.
The French international had been touted to English clubs all summer – Aston Villa and Spurs among them – for around £15-20 million. None were willing to meet that fee and so Martial signed a new bumper four-year deal with the principality club. Woodward’s now infamous haggling over a few million during the Pedro deal makes spending way over the odds for Martial even more unbelievable.
Of course, the ex-accountant has previous regarding these aberrations. Two summers ago – during David Moyes’ reign – he dallied so badly in the pursuit of Marouane Fellaini that the club ended up by-passing his buy-out point and having to fork out an extra £4 million.
It is understandable that the club sees Martial, 19, as more of a long-term prospect than Pedro, 28, but paying such a grossly inflated figure for potential rather than proven quality is a huge oversight considering how much the squad is crying out for world-class reinforcements right now.
With Martial incoming, there is also unconfirmed talk of young forward Adnan Januzaj being loaned to Borussia Dortmund as a sweetner in a deal for – wait for it – Marco Reus.
While the German international would be a huge coup, he – along with Martial – is really more of a flank forward than an out-and-out striker. United would have an abundance of talent out-wide and no one but a misfiring Wayne Rooney to rely on through the middle. Whilst the majority of the early transfer business was done quickly and concisely, these last six weeks or so make fly in the face of sound logic.
Manchester United look ponderous and pedestrian on the pitch; that is down to Louis Van Gaal, but he is not being helped by a chief executive who is reflecting the performances on the pitch with those in the transfer market. Ed Woodward refuses to learn from his mistakes and it is costing the club dear; possibly in more ways than one.