In Depth

Who is new Manchester United striker Anthony Martial?

The teenager signed for £36m from Monaco has been likened to Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, but also has a reputation for being idle

As the transfer window inches shut, Manchester United have pulled off one of the most unexpected moves of the summer, forking out a reported £36m on a virtually unknown teenager in the form of Monaco striker Anthony Martial.

"Louis van Gaal has been linked with pretty much every high profile player under the sun in the previous few weeks — from Neymar to Gareth Bale to Zlatan Ibrahimovic — and yet, in the end, decided to bid for a striker with only one full season of top flight football under his belt," notes the Daily Telegraph.

So what can United fans expect from their new signing?

Background:

The 19-year-old grew up in Massy in the southern suburbs of Paris, and he played for the same youth team as Thierry Henry, who is an influential figure in Martial's story. In 2009 at the age of 14 he was spotted by Olympique Lyonnais and signed for the club.

He was prolific for Lyon's youth teams and won international caps in all of France's age-group teams from 16 upwards. He made his senior debut in 2012. Although he did not score a senior goal for Lyon, his burgeoning reputation led Monaco to pay €5m for his signature in 2013.

Goal record:

A record of ten goals in 45 Ligue 1 appearances will not strike fear into the hearts of Premier League defenders. But, as the Manchester Evening News points out, that return still makes him the most prolific teenager in Europe's top five leagues.

Potential:

It is his potential rather than his record that has persuaded United to fork out the money, and it could be well spent, says The Guardian. "Martial has most of the requirements fundamental to being a success at the very highest level. His movement, close control and pace are probably the most distinctive qualities of his game. He is elegant with great balance and for such a young player is a very composed finisher."

The Thierry Henry factor:

Comparisons with the former Arsenal striker have been doing the rounds since Martial was a youngster, but were lent credence by the France Under-21 coach Pierre Mankowski who also likened him to Henry.

"Like the Arsenal legend, Martial is an adept dribbler, and has enjoyed success playing on the wings before bursting in on goal. He is also blessed with blistering pace," says the Telegraph.

But the Manchester Evening News sounds a warning note. "In France, he's known as the next Thierry Henry. But then so was David Bellion."

Drawbacks:

Not every promising teenager ends up as the real deal, as the MEN makes clear with its Bellion reference.

His work ethic appears not to be the greatest, says the Daily Mail. "As with all teen sensations, Martial will have a lot to learn," says the paper. "He can appear to be a bit nonchalant on the pitch, a bit like Karim Benzema, and he's admitted he's 'always been like this. If I didn't really turn up in a training session, I wouldn't force myself to.'"

Will he be any good?

The Daily Mail believes he is a good buy. "He's a great option for a club looking immediately to boost their attacking options, now Javier Hernandez has left for German club Bayer Leverkusen," says the paper. "They need end product, rather than ineffective possession. A player such as Martial, therefore, who can create chances and be at the end of a cross, is at the moment, very valuable."

Whether or not he is worth £36m remains to be seen. And it is a gamble says the Telegraph. "Scoring eight goals in one of Europe's top five divisions isn't a bad return for any teenager, but it does highlight United’s quite staggering investment in little other than sheer, raw potential."

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