Manchester United goalkeeper Lee Grant has revealed a training ground rivalry with Anthony Martial that is helping the forward improve his finishing ability.
Martial enjoyed his best goalscoring season in 2019/20, netting 23 times after being entrusted as the frontman in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s attack.
The Frenchman came under fire for uncharacteristically squandering some good opportunities as United crashed out of the Europa League with a semi-final defeat to Sevilla on Sunday.
But overall, Martial had an exceptional season and improvements were seen in all the key departments of his game.
Third choice ‘keeper Grant, who made one appearance this season, has lifted the lid on a behind-the-scenes battle during training sessions that is helping Martial work on his shooting.
“We have a nice little battle actually,” Grant told United’s official website.
“I’m always on at him in training, always digging at him in training to try to do better.
“I’ll always try to get the upper hand whenever he’s shooting and, if we’re doing drills, and it might be really normal. We might be running a phase and passively shooting into the goal – the phase finishes in the middle third and the shot is not really full tempo. If Anthony shoots and I save it, I go: ‘1-0, Anto’. Then he’ll get this glint in his eye and the next one, it won’t matter if the gaffer says don’t worry about the shot in the end, he’ll come through and want to shoot in a one-on-one.
“He won’t even say anything, he’ll just do that [1-1], and then the next one, and we’ll do that all day. So a lovely little rivalry goes on between us.”
Martial’s desire to reach his optimum level has been clear under Solskjaer and the 24-year-old deserves another season in his favoured position leading the line.
He is continuing to learn from the wisdom imparted by his manager, who also knows a thing or two about what to do in front of goal.
Martial will not be content with his best ever tally of 23, and will strive for more next season as Solskjaer looks to accelerate his rebuild and close the gap on rivals Liverpool and Manchester City in the Premier League.