Willy Sagnol, the current manager of Bordeaux, has praised Manchester United’s decision to sign Anthony Martial - describing the transfer as a “superb gamble” - but revealed some juicer information related to the recently-capped France international.
Sagnol called Martial to the France Under-21 squad when the current Manchester United number nine was just 17 and playing in French football’s fourth tier for AS Monaco’s reserve team.
This was a controversial decision at the time, Sagnol admits, and the former Bayern Munich defender claims he was told some “bad things” about the teenage striker - with some describing him as a “slacker”.
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"It's easy to say 'Oh guys, I warned you! Two years ago, Anthony was already a phenomenon,’” Sagnol was quoted as telling France Football by ESPN. "What's sure is that when I called him up to the Under-21s and I started him, he was 17 and he was playing in the fourth division with [the reserve team of] Monaco.
"Some people had a go at me saying things like 'it's not normal. He's not even playing with the pros at Monaco. He's a slacker.'
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"They also told me some bad things about him. But he was a kid that I liked a lot -- taciturn and reserved.
"But, when you do a little digging, [you find] he's extremely mature for his age."
Sagnol noticed similarities with Henry early on
Sagnol insists he noticed Martial’s potential from the moment he set eyes on the young forward, and claims he was one of the first to spot the similarities with Thierry Henry.
"He made me think of Thierry Henry, in his style, his ability to beat players and to accelerate," Sagnol added. "His talent jumped out at you.
"But at 18 or 19 years of age, there are corners to be turned and decisive choices to be made in terms of your club and game time.
"Last year Anthony's agent called me to talk about his development. I told him that the best way for him to progress was to stay at Monaco to try and win his place in the team.
"I really thought that once he started playing regularly, everything would go very quickly for him."
Nobody is talking about the price tag now...
It turns out Sagnol was spot on - again.
However, even the former France international must have been taken aback by Manchester United’s decision to spend a whopping £36 million on the teenager.
That fee could potentially rise to £58 million - depending on what Martial achieves at Old Trafford - although few are debating the price tag after he scored three goals in his first three appearances for the Red Devils.
Martial possesses a coolness in front of goal that few Manchester United fans expected to see - not for a good couple of years, at least.
But the self-assured Frenchman has hit the ground running at the Theatre of Dreams and has already endeared himself to the Manchester United faithful.
Manchester United fans: was Anthony Martial the best signing made by Louis van Gaal during the summer? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!
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