Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford still key for Man United and must be patient

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford still key for Man United and must be patient
From ESPN - April 12, 2018

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have a lot in common: two young, quick forwards, both exciting and, occasionally, frustrating. They would both like to play more often for Manchester United, too.

The arrival of Alexis Sanchez in January has provided more competition for places up front at Old Trafford.

For Martial, where once he was fighting Rashford for a place on the left of Jose Mourinho's front three, he is now battling Rashford, Juan Mata and, at times, Jesse Lingard for a spot on the right. Rashford is in a similar situation: his opportunities have also been restricted by Sanchez, although Rashford is seen by Mourinho as Romelu Lukaku's backup at centre-forward as well.

The United manager has maintained he will not sign another attacking player in the summer, despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic's departure to LA Galaxy, and sources have told ESPN FC that United have no intention of listening to offers for Rashford. The 20-year-old has earned Mourinho's trust far quicker than Martial, and no player has featured more often during the Portuguese's reign (97 appearances as a starter or a sub).

Martial is a different story. In the past, he has been quick to tell his side whenever he has felt it necessary. In June 2017, amid suggestions he was unhappy under Mourinho's management and could be tempted by a move to Arsenal, he tweeted "Les rumeurs sont fausses" (the rumours are false), though you did not need to be fluent in French to know what it meant.

Nearly a year on and speculation he could leave Old Trafford is back. But this time, Martial has stayed silent.

Sources have told ESPN FC that the Frenchman has grown frustrated since Sanchez's arrival. Since the Chilean's move, Martial has started just four of United's 12 games, and he was an unused substitute during the dramatic 3-2 derby comeback at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Sources said it has prompted the forward take a step back from United's attempts to extend his contract. He has a deal until 2019, with the club holding an option to add another 12 months, and there were tentative discussions in December but without any significant progress. Revisited last month, there was no breakthrough then, either.

United are clear that they want Martial to stay. Still only 22, they see him as one of a core of young players -- including Rashford, Lukaku, Paul Pogba and Eric Bailly -- who are key to future success.

There is a feeling around the club that they took a calculated risk to commit more than 50 million to bring him to Old Trafford from Monaco as a teenager in 2015, and they are not about to let him spend his peak years somewhere else.

Mourinho and his staff have worked hard to add industry and determination to his undoubted talent. They inherited a player who, under Louis van Gaal, was allowed to focus almost entirely on going forward. Under Mourinho, he is expected to work harder, tracking full-backs to his own byline if necessary and pressing the ball when it comes into his zone.

Off the pitch, the upheaval in his private life has settled down, and he is expecting a child with partner Melanie Da Cruz.


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