Solskjaer challenges Martial to become the next Ronaldo’s at Manchester United
The caretaker manager wants the Frenchman to establish himself as one of the world’s best after signing a new deal at Old Trafford.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged Anthony Martial to follow in Cristiano Ronaldo’s footsteps and establish himself as one of the world’s best with Manchester United.
Deadline day may not have brought any new acquisitions at Old Trafford, but there was a key signing as the talented 23-year-old put pen to paper on a new and improved deal.
Martial has committed to 2024, with the option of a further year, to end speculation about a forward that Press Association Sport understands former United boss Jose Mourinho had been keen to sell in the summer.
The forward forced his way back into the Portuguese’s thoughts and is now an important player for caretaker manager Solskjaer’s side, having been through his “ups and downs” since arriving from Monaco in 2015.
“Very good,” Solskjaer said of Martial’s potential. “He’s a fantastic finisher, great ability, he’s young, he’s intelligent, he knows his football.
“He knows that I’d like him to do a couple more runs in behind, but I’ve not seen many players with the quick feet and the skills in the last third as he has so we’re going to build his career and hopefully he’ll grab the chance with both hands.”
Former striker and 1999 treble hero Solskjaer will work to improve Martial’s game – a player he believes has the ability to regularly score 20-plus goals per season.
United’s caretaker boss also pointed to the example of former team-mate Ronaldo, who he saw grow from a raw teenager to become one of the best around.
“Well, of course, I speak about my experience at this club, what he can achieve at this club because I think I can achieve a lot,” Solskjaer said.
“As I have said many times, I’m here to help players, to guide players until the summer and I think when you sit him down and talk to him, for example, about Cristiano’s career, what he’s made of his career and how he’s got there and we talk about all the fantastic players with the history they’ve got.
“I think Anthony just sat down and said: ‘if I can be a part of this I’d like to’. I believe and the club believes we have got a top player there.
“I’ve been here for 15 years, coach, player, now manager and I know how much this club can give to your career and what you can give to the club.
“I’m here to help the club and I’m just being honest with him that for me this was the best place to be, I made my career here, it was easy to sell the club to Anthony, but he’s been here for many years, so he knows what we’re capable of.”
Solskjaer hopes the likes of David De Gea will agree to extended stays on the back of Martial’s deal, which the Frenchman could have the chance to celebrate at Leicester on Sunday.
The caretaker boss expects the forward to recover from the slight injury that kept him out of Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Burnley at Old Trafford, after which Paul Pogba was seen limping away.
“We’ve not had a proper session since the game – hopefully both of them can get through that,” Solskjaer said.
“I don’t think there’s anything with Paul. Anthony has done some rehab work, so he’ll try a session today.
“I would imagine he would be available to be involved. He seemed happy yesterday.”
Marcos Rojo is the only injury for Solskjaer to contend with on Sunday – by which point Marouane Fellaini may well have completed his switch to China.
Press Association Sport understands that Shandong Luneng have reached an agreement with United in principle to sign the Belgium international, who travelled east on Thursday to iron out final terms and complete paperwork.
Asked to provide an update on Fellaini, Solskjaer said: “Nothing’s confirmed there yet, so obviously what I talk to players about would have to be between the two of us.
“We had good discussions, obviously he got injured so we spoke about that but nothing’s confirmed so I can’t say more, really.”