Anthony Joran Martial (born 5 December 1995) is a French professional footballer who plays as a forward for English club Manchester United and the France national team. He was the recipient of the 2015 Golden Boy Award for the best under-21 player in Europe.
Playing youth football for Les Ulis, he began his professional career at Lyon, then transferred to AS Monaco in 2013 for a fee of €6 million. He was a member of Monaco’s squad for two seasons, and signed for Manchester United in 2015 for an initial fee of £36 million which could potentially rise to £57.6 million. This is the highest fee paid for a teenager in football history even before the potential increase. He scored in his first match for United, and was named the Premier League Player of the Month in his first month in English football.
Aziz Benaaddane, one of Martial’s coaches at Les Ulis, told the BBC in 2015 that as a six-year-old, Martial was able to run in a straight line to the goal: “We’ve got 400 youngsters playing for us but a talent like that arrives only once every five or six years. We felt it, we saw the potential and we pushed him”. Mahamadou Niakite, another coach, added that Martial was put in higher age groups, as at the age of six he had the ability of most eight-year-olds, and at around the age of 12–13 he was focused on becoming a professional.
According to journalist Philippe Auclair, Martial plays in a style similar to former French international Thierry Henry, with speed and technical ability both in wide positions and up front. Henry himself praised Martial after his goalscoring debut, while Martial himself refuted the comparison, saying “I don’t think we have the same type of game – he was very quick whereas I rely more on power and technique. But it’s always good to be compared to great players”.
In the aftermath of France’s 2–1 win over Denmark in October 2015, Fenerbahçe defender Simon Kjær was reportedly stunned after playing against him to learn that Martial was just 19. He told French newspaper L’Équipe, “He’s really good for 19. I didn’t know him when I was in France. He’s very, very hard to mark because he knows how to do a lot of things. Not only is he quick, but he’s also technically good.”
A youth international for France from under-16 to under-21 level, Martial made his senior debut in 2015. He was named in their squad for UEFA Euro 2016.