Solskjær challenges Martial to follow Ronaldo’s lead
Manchester United manager believes Martial has ‘fantastic potential’ and can join elite
Anthony Martial. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty Images
Martial signed a fresh five-year deal with Manchester United on Thursday, and the caretaker manager is confident that the forward can join the elite if he wishes.
Ronaldo joined United in summer 2003 as a raw 18-year-old and left six years later having turned himself into the finest player in the game, alongside Lionel Messi.
Martial signed at 19 and Solskjær, asked whether the France international could emulate Ronaldo, said: “Well, of course that’s up to any player: how you make a decision on how to develop your own career.
“Cristiano was the best. The way he’s changed to now; that’s part of any player – you’ve got to model yourself on someone and you’ve got to have more challenges ahead of you. I speak about my experience at this club [with Ronaldo] and what [Martial] can achieve. I talk about Cristiano’s career, what he’s made, how he’s got there.”
Martial might have left in the summer if José Mourinho, Solskjær’s predecessor, had his wish but Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, refused to sell him.
Of the new contract, Solskjær said: “It’s a confirmation that we are happy with him, we believe in him. He’s got fantastic potential. He’s had ups and downs – he’s been top scorer, he’s been developing. As a young lad moving abroad it’s not easy, but he knows he’s going to stay here for the coming future, and I believe in him.”
Martial’s best return for United was 17 goals in his opening season. He has 10 this term, and Solskjær believes Martial can reach 20. “He has the capability but I’d like him to make a few more runs in behind because he doesn’t miss chances,” the Norwegian said.
“He’s a fantastic finisher, he needs to get more chances. I’ve told him that you’ve got to read and sniff, maybe [get] some scruffy goals at times. Him and Marcus [Rashford] score loads of worldy goals but those tap-ins and making those runs could go a long way to do that [score more] .”
Marouane Fellaini has completed his move from United to the Chinese club Shandong Luneng.