Louis van Gaal has admitted he is very surprised by the impact Anthony Martial has been able to make in his debut season at Manchester United.
Expectation has been high for the 20-year-old following his summer move from AS Monaco. The deal, costing an initial £36million and growing to a potential £58m, sent shockwaves around world football at the time.
While he may not have fulfilled the hopes of every Manchester United fan, he has certainly proved himself to be a top, top talent and certainly worthy of his formidable transfer fee.
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It was enough to make him the most expensive teenager in football history, but even then, Van Gaal did not think the France international would be able to make much of an impact in his first season. The Dutchman admitted that he was of the impression that only his successor would benefit from Martial's arrival, but seems happy to admit he was wrong.
“It is very much surprising,” he told reporters. “You come from the French league, come to the Premier League and you do this at 20 then you have a lot of potential but then I am the manager not anymore at that time when he is at his best.”
Playing out of position
Martial's career at Old Trafford went up another level on Tuesday night after his man of the match performance against Stoke City. He scored one and assisted another in a 3-0 win that was widely considered to be United's best performance of the season.
He deserves even more credit when you consider that Martial was playing outside of his favoured central position. In fact, he has spent most of the season on the left-wing even though Van Gaal admits he would prefer to play as a striker. But thanks to the system currently in place, his position is unlikely to change anytime soon.
"That is dependent on the shape of the team, his fellow players,” the Dutchman said when asked if Martial would get a chance in a central position.
“He likes to play in a striker’s position more than where he is now playing but when I need him to play on the other side. When he plays like this I am not changing. Same as [Wayne] Rooney, same as [Juan] Mata. I am not changing."