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‘Martial is on the cusp of becoming an elite number nine’

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Manchester United striker Anthony Martial is “on the cusp” of becoming an “elite number nine”, according to Darren Fletcher.

Martial is currently enjoying his finest individual season yet at Old Trafford.

The 24-year-old had previously struggled for consistency in the final third in a United shirt, but has managed to take his game up a notch since being shifted into a central role.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer trusted Martial to lead the line after selling Romelu Lukaku to Inter last summer, and the Frenchman has rewarded his manager’s faith by scoring 21 goals in 41 appearances across all competitions.

His latest effort came during a 2-2 draw with Southampton on Monday, as he drove into the box at pace before firing an unstoppable shot past Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy midway through the first half.

Though the result saw United miss the chance to move up to third in the Premier League standings, Fletcher was very pleased with Martial’s overall contribution on the night.

The ex-Red Devils midfielder has been pleasantly surprised by the former Monaco youngster’s recent resurgence, and says he is starting to show that he has the desire and hunger to match his natural ability.

“I thought Anthony Martial was fantastic,” Fletcher told MUTV after the Southampton clash. “I think his endeavour, his work-rate… the talent has always been there.

“There’s always been questions marks about his work-rate and his desire but he’s definitely putting that right and he’s been the most surprising player for me [since the restart].

“I think he’s been fantastic. I think we’re seeing somebody on the cusp – if he keeps this going – of being a real elite number nine goalscorer.

“His attitude all night was a real positive for me.”

Solskjaer also waxed lyrical over his star centre-forward in his post-match interview, telling reporters: “Anthony I thought he was excellent today, absolutely top class.

“Especially the second goal that’s how we want to play football. Fast, quick, through the pitch and a very good finish.”

Martial will look to add to his impressive goals haul when United take in a trip to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on Thursday.

The Red Devils are fifth in the Premier League at the moment, but only trail fourth-placed Leicester due to an inferior goal difference, with Chelsea four points further ahead in third having played a game more.


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