Anthony Martial has come to symbolize Manchester United’s struggles this season.
The Red Devils lost 0-1 to Bayern Munich in the sixth leg of their UEFA Champions League (UCL) Group A match of the 2023-24 season at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, at 5 a.m. ET on Wednesday. United finished the group stage with one win, one draw, and four losses, failing to qualify for the round of 16. They finished last and missed out on a spot in the UEFA Europa League.
Once again, the lack of depth in the offense was very evident in this game. With Marcus Rashford out of form, United went with Alejandro Garnacho, Rasmus Højlund, and Anthony. While Garnacho and Höyelun were active, Anthony’s presence was completely absent throughout the game.
Even against Alfonso Davies, who is considered the best fullback in the world, Anthony should have done better considering his price tag. Anthony joined United from Ajax ahead of the 2022-23 season. United brought him in at the insistence of Van Gaal, and the transfer fee was a whopping €95 million. With a bonus clause of up to €5 million ($7.1 billion), the outlay could rise to €100 million ($142.3 billion).
It was the second highest transfer fee in United’s history and the fifth highest in Premier League history. Today, it’s seventh. Since then, Anthony’s transfer has been criticized as an overpayment. It wasn’t as if his performances at Ajax hadn’t already convinced big European clubs, and he cost more than Jadon Sancho, who dominated the Bundesliga at Dortmund.
Or not. Anthony didn’t live up to expectations in his first season. Eight goals and three assists in 44 games were not enough to earn him a regular spot in the United lineup. His left-footed pattern became increasingly obvious. He wasn’t fast enough, he wasn’t physically strong enough, and his shortcomings became more and more apparent.
To add insult to injury, this season he also had to deal with a controversy over an alleged assault on his ex-girlfriend, and the repercussions of that have made him one of the worst players this season. He doesn’t have a single offensive point in 17 official games. His €100 million price tag has now been halved to €50 million. If Van Gaal can’t turn things around and is sacked, United won’t even recoup their money if they sell Anthony.