Anthony Martial debut highlights his big challenge at Manchester United – Richard Fay

There are few fans who would have disagreed with the decision to let Anthony Martial join Sevilla on loan in the January transfer window.

The French forward has frustrated throughout his six-and-a-half-years at Old Trafford since a £50million move from Monaco, but there can be no denying the individual talent and untapped potential he still has to offer.

Manchester United were right to let an out-of-favor forward leave the club on a temporary basis, but it said a lot that they didn’t want to sanction his permanent exit from the club just yet.

With a new permanent manager planned to arrive at the end of the season, United have been reluctant to make any rash decisions, instead opting to keep their options open just in case their new boss takes a fancy to a player currently on the fringes.

Martial, Donny van de Beek, Jesse Lingard, Eric Bailly and Dean Henderson could all easily have left Old Trafford permanently last month had the club actively looked to sell them, but right now that approach doesn’t suit their long-term needs.

It once again highlights the passiveness at play around Old Trafford, with United reluctant to make ruthless decisions, even when they seem obvious to others.

United’s next permanent manager will be tasked with clearing out the squad as soon as they arrive — though this very same issue is what has given Martial another glimmer of redemption.

A year ago, it was Lingard who transformed his fortunes with a stellar loan spell away from the club and 12 months later the onus is now on Martial to follow suit at Sevilla.

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It might be unlikely, but it still isn’t out of the question that Martial could make such an impact in La Liga that a new United manager decides to give him another chance when he returns at the end of the season.

If that is going to happen, the French forward needs to find form fast and learn from the reality check of a disappointing debut, which saw Sevilla held to a goalless draw by Osasuna on Saturday.

Martial failed to impress in 76 minutes of action as midfielder Ivan Rakitic missed a 93rd minute penalty to clinch all three points on a disappointing day for the La Liga title hopefuls.

“Anthony has to give us much more,” manager Julen Lopetegui said after the match. “It was his first game and adaptation of it is not easy, he has played little this year and he has to get into dynamics and gain minutes and confidence.”

Anthony Martial will spend the second of the season in La Liga with Sevilla.
Anthony Martial will spend the second of the season in La Liga with Sevilla.

The United loanee started the match on the left as an inverted forward but looked low on confidence, failing to register a single effort on goal during a tough first taste of Spanish football.

Martial will be hoping to get off the mark in Sevilla colors on his home debut against Elche this Friday night. And if he manages to do so, it could be the start of a special loan-spell that could well shape his senior career.

At the age of 26, he still has plenty of time on his side to finally fulfill the potential that followed in the wake of his dream United debut against Liverpool. The big question is at what club it might finally come to fruition.

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Having already contributed towards seven seasons of service, it is certainly not a case of £50million down the drain as the old Stretford End song goes, but who knows if we will ever see Martial score for United again.

If he can shine at Sevilla, then Old Trafford match-goers might have reason to sing his name again soon.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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