Anthony Martial’s poor performance against Southampton can be viewed a couple of ways.
You can say it was down to of a lack of sharpness, his first start since March, and Martial can only improve as the season goes on.
But Martial can only be given so many chances. He is into his seventh season at Manchester United now, and he is looking like he won’t grow into the player the club hoped to have signed.
Martial’s problems could be accelerated by the development of young prospect Anthony Elanga.
Elanga thrived in pre-season, building on a promising end to last season for the under-23s, the first team, and Sweden’s under-21s, to score seven goals in his last eight matches.
Elanga was excellent in pre-season, netting twice. He has shown Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he is ready and capable of making an impact.
The word Solskjaer used repeatedly to describe Elanga was ‘electric’.
When was the last time that could be applied to Anthony Martial?
Elanga plays in the same positions as Martial, he can line up on the left wing or up front.
If Elanga is going to make it at United, and it looks like he has the talent to, then he will have to force somebody out. Martial seems most likely to be the fall guy.
Martial in jeopardy
If Martial puts in more performances like he did at Southampton, then United have no option but to get rid.
There is no risk to not promoting Elanga in his place, who is a young, hungry player with an attitude Solskjaer has commended.
Elanga netted against Wolves at the end of last season and against Brentford in pre-season.
Speaking after the friendly at Old Trafford, Solskjaer told the club website: “He works so hard, he’s always smiley, bright, asking what more he needs to do, he’s so hungry to improve and get better. He can play wide left, wide right, up front, so anywhere along the front line. He’s going to be an asset.”
Elanga won’t be in consideration to solve Manchester United’s long-term striker solution, not yet, but he can force the issue with Martial and hasten his departure.
While Martial previously played well for United out wide left, last season these were his worst displays, he looked disinterested playing in the position.
Elanga is a young, hungry talent who top scored for United’s under-23s last season and is hoping to seize his first team chances.
If he continues his current rise and Martial continues to stagnate, then the Frenchman could find himself replaced quicker than anybody anticipates.
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