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Will Kevin De Bruyne or Anthony Martial prove the better deal?

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Both sides from Manchester opened up their big chequebooks to sign two massive players during the latter stages of the transfer window.

Manchester City purchased Kevin de Bruyne from Wolfsburg and Anthony Martial joined their neighbours from Old Trafford from AS Monaco for an initial fee of £36 million.

Both signings have shown their worth so far after only four combined starts between them, and De Bruyne matched Martial with a man of the match performance of his own against West Ham. City did lose to the Hammers in the end, but their Belgian attacking midfielder was their best player for the entirety of the game.

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So who will the better season when we look back on their debuts in May?

There are multiple different factors in such a question when comparing an attacking midfielder to a forward.

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De Bruyne is five years older than the French striker and has actually played in the Premier League before. Although he was brought to City because of his scintillating play in Germany, De Bruyne has made domestic appearances for Chelsea. Martial, on the other hand, is just a teenager whose introduction to the Premier League was in the brightest of spotlights.

Since De Bruyne has that extra match experience he will be given a more central long-term role in the City team. Some of their midfielders are approaching the age of 30 and a 24-year-old central player is a piece they can add to when it comes time to replace the veterans. 

Though Martial has had a brilliant start, manager Louis van Gaal has made sure to deflect pressure away from the Frenchman as he is still a young man. Being 19-years-old and carrying Manchester United's attacking workload is not an easy task. However, Martial is filling the role that the Red Devils desperately need right now. Players like Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata have been crying out for an attacking dynamo that they can support, and Martial is exactly that.

Style

Another aspect of this comparison is the developing style of play of each player and how it will change over time. Kevin de Bruyne has grown into a complete attacking midfielder and he has had time to refine his game in that role with a Wolfsburg team shaped around him. De Bruyne is like an automobile that is constantly traveling in fourth or fifth gear, just waiting for some open road to cruise into and make something happen.

Because of that perpetual motion, the Belgian is different from City's other attacking midfielders. David Silva moves in order to dictate the attacking play, but it is not necessarily massive movements that Silva makes without the ball. Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero are quick off the ball movers, but they are also operators in the final third, and thus the players De Bruyne should be passing to. He almost duplicates Yaya Toure's attacking presence, able to use just one touch to make a play.

Martial is a completely different animal, and because of his lack of first team experience he will continue to learn while playing for the Red Devils. He runs with the ball at speed and is capable of going around defenders as well as going into empty space with the ball at his feet.

The Frenchman's visible comfort with playing on the counter is a huge bonus for United, who needed pace in the attack when the only reliable forward at the club was Wayne Rooney two weeks ago.

Thirdly, the rise to stardom of both players could be inhibited by their lack of playing time in such a big side. Because of the depth in City's squad at the central attacking midfield position, De Bruyne faces huge competition for a locked in, first team place. In two or three years, the situation may be different but the Belgian could be unhappy with that situation after just a season of not receiving regular football. 

Martial has not only a growing role in the United team but five more years to improve himself in the company of multiple fellow new players. Ander Herrera, Memphis Depay and David de Gea could be at Old Trafford for many years to come and Martial could be the first-choice striker, bar none, in two or three seasons.

Influence

So whose influence will be greater on their respective Manchester side over time? Anthony Martial could end up playing in Manchester for longer, and if he continues to perform like he is right now the will be the star striker for the Red Devils.

De Bruyne may be a bigger talent right now, but he is competing with so many young attacking players at City and may not end up influencing their team more than three or four other players. Manuel Pellegrini's men look lost without Sergio Aguero, and De Bruyne has not - so far - proven that he can be the Argentine's replacement on the front line.

It is a difficult question to answer after so few chances each player has had to show off their skills. However, both of them have not disappointed as of yet. It could be down to who stays with their respective club longer. Martial may well become a legend in Manchester - but then again, so might Kevin de Bruyne.

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Topics:
Premier League
Manchester United
Manchester City
Football

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