Manchester United have kept Anthony Martial out of fear of seeing him become “one of the best players in the world” elsewhere, says Gary Neville, with it now up to the France international to deliver on the faith shown in him.
Exit talk around the talented 23-year-old has been sparked at regular intervals in recent years.
After a bright start to his time at Old Trafford, Martial has struggled for consistency amid struggles to nail down a regular role.
The 2019-20 campaign could see him figure more as a central striker, with his goal account for the season opened in that role during a 4-0 victory over Chelsea, and Neville is looking for a forward of considerable potential to show that he can be the player United believe he is.
The ex-Red Devils defender told Sky Sports : “Martial has not realised his potential on the left side for three or four years and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is probably thinking he wants to play centre forward, he’s a good finisher, I have to give him that chance.
“You could argue it’s to the detriment of [Marcus] Rashford, but if he can get his head around playing on the left and be comfortable and Martial can be a centre-forward then it’s worth giving him that chance.
“At Manchester United when there’s speculation around Martial leaving there’s been a big fear that he will go to another club and become one of the best players in the world because he has got that much talent.
“I think now is the time for Martial to deliver it. He is being given his chance as a centre-forward and scored a good goal.”
Another of those under pressure to perform for United this season is £80 million ($96m) new boy Harry Maguire, with the England international now the world’s most expensive defender.
He put in a commanding performance on debut against Chelsea and Neville believes the 26-year-old will prove to be a shrewd addition.
He added: “Maguire looks secure and he looks strong. Every time the ball came near him in the air he won it and he never looked any different to how he was for England or Leicester.
“I think that was the main thing; coming here with a huge price tag in a big game as a Manchester United player for the first time it didn’t look like anything had changed.
“He has a really good temperament. The hope is that he doesn’t just do his job, but he is a catalyst for strengthening the whole team.
“The great centre-backs I played with didn’t just help themselves during the game, they also had a big impact on others. We have spoken about Virgil van Dijk doing that at Liverpool.
“It’s too early to say Maguire will make the same difference as Van Dijk, but there’s a chance.
“Manchester City wanted Maguire and Manchester United won him and they so needed him. A character, a personality, a leader, a dominant force, he will bring stability to the club for the next five or six years.”