Kylian Mbappe has well and truly arrived on the world stage after his stunning string of performances in Russia. The teenager has the world at his feet, winning the World Cup at just 19 and joining the illustrious company in Pele in scoring in the final as a teenager. His face was plastered on the Arc de Triomphe with tens of thousands of jubilant French supporters giving this electronic representation a thunderous, rapturous ovation.
Throughout the tournament, as Mbappe was thriving, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that I’m sure crossed other United fans’ minds: That could have been Anthony Martial.
Martial was certainly ahead of Mbappe two years ago, in fact, both Monaco graduates’ paths have taken completely different courses since then. Martial is entering his fourth season as a United player and there can be no denying he has not kicked on as we had hoped. There is nothing hyperbolic or exaggerated in stating that Martial should be at the level that Mbappe is showing, despite being four years his junior.
Martial, at 23, does have time on his side, but how long can you persist with a player on the premise that he could hypothetically become world class? Unpolished diamonds undoubtedly need time, look at Cristiano Ronaldo as the ultimate case in point, but he was delivering by this stage and Martial has had time.
People are all too quick to point the finger of blame at the so-called ‘talent destroyer’ Mourinho whenever Martial’s situation is discussed. However, Didier Deschamps also did not consider Martial to be among the best 23 players France could call upon in Russia.
With Lukaku and Rashford needing a longer period of rest after their World Cup exploits, and Alexis Sanchez reportedly arriving in America later than the rest, Martial has the opportunity to be the first of that attacking bunch to impress Mourinho and ensure those seeds of doubt do not grow into something irreparable as far as Martial is concerned.
There is no doubt a red-hot Martial is virtually unplayable and the world is his oyster. His performances are still riddled with inconsistencies and he is reaching a critical juncture in his United career.
He is getting close to do or die. He needs to win Mourinho over once and for all.
If Martial wants a future at United, the hard work starts now.