It looks like Anthony Martial will not be leaving Manchester United this transfer window after manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer implied on Friday that the striker is part of his immediate plans.
The Frenchman has been repeatedly linked with a move away from Old Trafford in recent weeks after a tough 18 months in Manchester.
However, Solskjaer was full of praise for Martial in his pre-match press conference ahead of the Premier League opener against Leeds United, perhaps finally putting those reports to bed.
What has Solskjaer said?
Asked about Martial’s future, the Norwegian responded: "I wouldn’t be surprised if other teams targeted Anthony because he is a very good player.
“[He’s come] back strong and hungry to prove his quality. You can see that grit between his teeth again; he is up for the challenge. We are happy that we have him."
Who has Martial been linked with?
The attacker, who joined the Red Devils from Monaco in 2015, has reportedly been a target for Inter Milan following the sale of his former team-mate Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea.
He has also been touted as a possible replacement for Harry Kane, should the Tottenham Hotspur attacker sign for Manchester City.
Why is there speculation?
In 2019/20, Martial looked to have finally nailed down a position as United’s first-choice centre-forward, with the French international netting 23 goals in all competitions that campaign.
However, last season was a different story. In fact, he scored just seven goals in 36 games and often looked disinterested and lethargic on the pitch.
A red card in the early weeks against Tottenham and a knee injury which curtailed his season in March didn’t help matters, while the signing of Edinson Cavani and emergence of Mason Greenwood as a central striker raised questions over Martial’s place in the squad.
Will he play against Leeds?
It’s unlikely the forward will start given he only managed 45 minutes in pre-season, but Martial could be an option from the bench.
Greenwood is most likely to begin the game up front with Cavani yet to return to training after an extended break this summer.
Youngster Anthony Elanga is also in contention after an impressive run of performances in the warm-up friendly games.
How will Martial fit in this season?
Once back to full fitness, Cavani will most probably be Solskjaer’s first-choice striker, although the 34-year-old Uruguayan rarely plays two matches in a week.
Greenwood is obviously an option for the Red Devils, but Solskjaer has regularly spoken about the teenager’s need to bulk up if he wants to operate in that role, with a spot off the right wing still very much a possibility.
So, a place in the team remains very much up for grabs for Martial, who can also play from a wide left position, but he’s likely to be a squad rotation player for United this season.
That being said, injuries are part and parcel of football - the Red Devils begin this campaign without Marcus Rashford, already providing an opening on the wing.
For Martial, he needs to once again prove his importance to a set of supporters who have grown tired of his inconsistencies and leisurely demeanor on the pitch.
There will definitely be opportunities for Martial in 2021/22, but this very much feels like his last chance to showcase his undoubted talent on a regular basis. Whether Martial will still be a United player in 12 months time could very much depend on it.