Anthony Martial has provided much positivity in an otherwise gloomy season for Manchester United.
The winger, a £36 million signing from Monaco in the summer (the fee could rise to £58m), has scored 11 goals in his first season at Old Trafford and, at the age of 20, United fans are rightly optimistic that they’ve found a gem.
Can he be as good as Cristiano Ronaldo? It’s too early to tell just yet but Ryan Giggs is the latest to mention Martial’s name in the same sentence as Ronaldo, who moved to Manchester in 2003 as an 18-year-old and went on to become a multiple Ballon d’Or winner.
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Giggs, Louis van Gaal’s assistant, praised Martial’s consistency in an interview with the Telegraph.
He is quoted by Manchester Evening News as saying: “Anthony has been a breath of fresh air.
“He came in for big money and he had been so consistent this year. It puts pressure on other players who aren’t as consistent because it is not normal for a young player.
“They can be brilliant for two or three games and then it will dip, but it doesn’t happen very often.
“You look at Cristiano. For 18 months he was indifferent. Now, phew, he scores every week.
"People just mature at different times. It’s up to the individual to work hard and the cream usually rises to the top if you work hard and you have got the quality.”
Ronaldo has reached legendary status
Martial is aiming to emulate a player who has won three Ballon d’Or awards - one at Manchester United and two at Real Madrid - and is Madrid’s all-time leading goalscorer.
But he will be pleased to know that his goal tally in his first season in England is just one shy of Ronaldo’s haul in his third campaign at United.
One area Martial might not surpass the Portugal international in is trophies. Ronaldo won three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and one Champions League in a six-year stay at Old Trafford, while United are on the brink of their third-straight season without silverware.
The FA Cup represents their best shot at glory but a tricky quarter-final replay at West Ham awaits.
Liverpool await in the Europa League
And their Europa League hopes hang by a thread. Tonight, the Red Devils will look to overcome a 2-0 deficit against Liverpool in the last-16.
They are underdogs but Van Gaal is in a buoyant mood and reckons his team can score four goals if they need to.
“We don't want to concede a goal. We are thinking only of making goals," the Dutchman said, per Sky Sports.
“We have done that against Midtjylland in the last round. We don't want to concede, but if we do, we can score four."
He’ll be looking to Martial to prove he can follow in Ronaldo’s footsteps.