The presence of Kylian Mbappe, the only member of Paris Saint Germain’s gilded attacking trio who will be fit to face Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, offers a reminder that Anthony Martial still has a way to go to become one of Europe’s most consistently feared forwards.
Omitted from France’s squad for last summer’s World Cup finals, Martial was forced to watch from home as the man who filled the void left by his exit from Monaco for United in 2015 fired his country to glory in Russia.
Mbappe’s meteoric rise, from teenage sensation with Monaco to the world’s second most expensive player at PSG and, most likely, United’s biggest headache on Tuesday, has been as mesmerising as Martial’s ups and downs at Old Trafford became a source of prolonged frustration for United supporters.
Martial grew so disillusioned under former manager Jose Mourinho, with whom he seldom saw eye-to-eye, that it was only nine months ago that his agent, Philippe Lamboley, was talking about his client quitting the club.
But, like so many others – compatriot Paul Pogba included – Martial has been liberated by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer over the past eight weeks and there is finally hope that the 23-year-old is playing for a manager, and in a system, that can help him to realise the full extent of his vast potential.