Manchester United’s transfer deadline day swoop for Colombian striker Radamel Falcao has cast a serious doubt over the seriousness of AS Monaco’s quest to become a major force in French football.
The squad may not be as strong as it was last season, but they didn’t need to 'panic buy' and replace the 28-year-old striker before the window closed, because in Anthony Martial, they already have his replacement.
It was a struck of luck and good timing that helped Monaco land 18-year-old Martial last summer. Lyon had to balance the books to appease their position on the Paris stock-exchange, and Monaco had money to burn. In a normal market, the striker should have cost around double what he did, but in a buyers’ market, it was Lyon that lost out.
Martial had only played 50 minutes of first-team football at the Stade Gerland, but his rise through Lyon’s famed academy and his performances for France’s Under-16, 17 and 18 squads gave him a high profile within the French game.
In 34 matches for those three sides, Martial scored 21 times, fast-tracking him into the Under-19 and Espoirs’ side just 12 months after leaving Lyon.
In November 2013, it was Martial who came off the bench when Falcao had a horrendous time against Nantes. The famous 'Who me?' look from the Colombian will never be forgotten, and neither should Martial’s appearance.
He showed everything Falcao had lacked in that match: movement, desire and the ability to beat a defender off the dribble. It was the substitute’s positive run down the right that set up Mounir Obbadi for the game’s only goal, as Falcao could only watch from the sidelines.
Amazingly, before the window closed, there was talk of Martial exiting the Monegasque club this summer, but coach Leandro Jardim has seen sense, and now the young forward will receive extended minutes in the Monaco first-team.
Still only 18, Martial has all the talent to become a huge force in French football. It would have been ideal to watch him grow and learn from a player like Falcao, but you can only really fulfil your potential by playing competitive football. And Falcao out of the picture, watch Martial explode into a top-class Ligue 1 striker.