Anthony Martial is prepared to bide his time over his future at Manchester United after feeling emboldened by the club hierarchy’s refusal to bow to Jose Mourinho’s wishes to sell him.
Mourinho wants United to offload the France forward before the European transfer window closes this week to raise funds to reinvest elsewhere.
The manager has long been unconvinced by Martial and their troubled relationship hit a new low when the player was fined two weeks’ wages – about £180,000 – for leaving United’s pre-season tour of the US last month without the manager’s blessing to attend the birth of his baby son. But Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, has been unwilling to grant Mourinho his wish over Martial in the belief that the youngster still has the talent to succeed at Old Trafford.
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United are also thought to fear that Martial could go on to be a big hit elsewhere if they let him go. Martial, who is at risk of being dropped by Mourinho for the visit of Tottenham tomorrow, is understood to have been encouraged by the club’s stance, despite originally asking to leave Old Trafford in June.
Philippe Lamboley, Martial’s agent, had claimed then that United were not serious about keeping the forward after eight months of contract talks came to nothing. But Martial is aware of the power play going on behind the scenes and is likely to wait to see how the situation with Mourinho unfolds before making any decision over his future.
Sevilla are among the clubs who have been linked with a loan move for Martial this week but the player knows his prospects at United could be significantly improved 12 months from now depending on what materialises with Mourinho.
Martial, 22, is out of contract next summer but United have an option to extend his deal by a further 12 months to June 2020 that would nullify the threat of losing the player for nothing.
Although United have publicly backed Mourinho, Zinedine Zidane, the former Real Madrid coach, is known to be interested in taking over at Old Trafford.
The prospect of the French legend talking the helm at United would doubtless appeal to Martial and his compatriot, Paul Pogba, who also has a strained relationship with Mourinho.
Mauricio Pochettino, the Tottenham manager, was keen to sign Martial this summer and Daniel Levy, the north London club’s chairman, called Woodward to inquire about the player’s availability only to be rebuffed. Chelsea were also interested.