April 20, 2021

Man Utd

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Anthony Martial should leave Manchester United if he keeps playing as a striker, says John Barnes

3 min read

Anthony Martial should quit Manchester United if he continues to be played out of position by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, says John Barnes.

The Frenchman has often been deployed as a centre forward this season despite his preferred position as a left winger, which he found some success with during his early years with United.

However, the emergence of Marcus Rashford and, more recently, Mason Greenwood, have limited Martial’s chances to feature out wide. 

Anthony Martial has struggled for form this season and is being deployed as a centre forward

Liverpool icon John Barnes (pictured) believes Martial should quit Manchester United if he is not played out wide

John Barnes (right) insists Anthony Martial (left) should leave Manchester United if he continues to be played as a centre forward and not in his preferred position on the left wing

Solskjaer has utilised Martial as a centre forward since taking over from Jose Mourinho in 2018 and he has enjoyed his best goalscoring form under the Norwegian to date.

However, the arrival of Edinson Cavani has seen Martial compete in several positions and Barnes insists the 25-year-old should cut his losses and head for the Old Trafford exit if the playing at centre forward trend continues. 

‘Anthony Martial has never been a centre forward, despite Manchester United playing him there,’ Barnes told BonusCodeBets.

‘If he can’t get a place in the starting team in his preferred wide position, following the emergence of Mason Greenwood, then maybe it is time for him to leave Manchester United.’

Barnes also questioned whether Martial is happy with his role in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's squad

Barnes also questioned whether Martial is happy with his role in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad

Martial was omitted from United’s starting XI for their goalless stalemate with Chelsea on Sunday, with Solskjaer instead opting for a front-line of Rashford, Greenwood and Daniel James, while Martial came on with 11 minutes to go.

What’s more worrying for the 25-year-old is that Cavani was injured for the encounter, leaving Solskjaer to place faith in other options for the crunch clash at Stamford Bridge.

And Liverpool icon Barnes has questioned whether Martial is truly happy with his role in the Red Devils squad. 

‘Lots of clubs nowadays have benches full of superstar players, who are happy to be there,’ Barnes added. 

‘But I don’t know if Martial is one of those players, or what Manchester United’s intentions are with him. I would suggest a change could be good for both him and the club if they aren’t getting what they want from him playing there.’

Martial has found chances to play out wide limited with the emergence of Mason Greenwood

Martial has found chances to play out wide limited with the emergence of Mason Greenwood

Martial has scored just seven goals in 33 appearances this season, while also contributing eight assists.

While his numbers may be falling short of expectations, Roy Keane and Graeme Souness questioned Martial’s desire to be a top-class player.

‘I’m not surprised you leave him out,’ Souness told Sky Sports. ‘I think he’s a young man with talent to succeed at the highest level… but will he be disappointed he’s not playing today?

‘Does he ever show he’s got a real passion for the game? Does he ever play, get emotional about the game? I’ve never seen it.

‘He’s one of those players who’s going to end up looking back at his career and thinking he could have done so much more. I’m a fan but I’m not a fan.’  

Roy Keane said Martial didn't look like he loved playing football

Graeme Souness questioned his passion for the game too

Roy Keane (left) and Graeme Souness (right) agreed Martial lacks passion to become top class

The 25-year-old has had a poor season, scoring just four goals in 21 Premier League matches

The 25-year-old has had a poor season, scoring just four goals in 21 Premier League matches

Fellow pundit and ex-United captain Keane offered similar concerns saying that Martial ‘doesn’t look like he loves that game. That’s always a worry.’    

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, also in the Sky Sports studio, suggested Martial had different priorities to scoring goals when he plays. 

‘I think for him it’s more important to go past three players and talk about that, he said.

‘You know, look how I got past two or three players but not put the ball in the net. I think that is more important for him, that’s the perception that I get from him.’

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