One goal, fitness issues, European failure and a title tilt that fizzled out… Anthony Martial’s loan spell at Sevilla delivered nothing and it’s hard to see why Erik ten Hag would keep him at Man United
‘We know him and we are excited about him. He can give us things that other players can’t give,’ Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui told Sportsmail in an interview in February not long after Anthony Martial had signed on loan.
The excitement fizzled out along with Sevilla’s season.
He was brought in to give the team another gear as they endeavoured to reach and win the Europa League final in their own stadium, and take their challenge for the title into the final weeks of the season.
Anthony Martial’s loan at Sevilla last season was a disappointing after initial excitement
The French striker mustered only the one goal, against Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League
Martial is set to return to Old Trafford but will United’s new manager Erik ten Hag want him?
But he only ever played one 90 minutes, scored just one goal, and managed one assist.
When Martial arrived Sevilla were second in the table six points behind Real Madrid with the eventual champions still to face. When the season ended they were fourth, 16 points adrift.
It wasn’t all his fault of course. But he had been brought into make sure there was no end of season slump and he never got fit enough to do that job.
The night they finally gave up all hope of winning the league in a 3-2 defeat at home to Real Madrid summed up Martial’s time at the club. He had done okay in a pulsating first half in which Sevilla had taken a 2-0 lead.
But he hobbled off with hamstring problems on 41 minutes and Real Madrid scored three times after the break to win the game 3-2.
United loaned Martial out after he became surplus to requirements at Old Trafford in January
There was plenty of optimism when he was unveiled as a Sevilla player back in late January
In Europe it was a similar story. When he turned up Sevilla were just beginning their Europa League adventure, having been knocked out of the Champions League, and Martial scored against Dynamo Zagreb in the play-off game that set-up a last-16 meeting with West Ham.
But he played just 15 minutes off the bench in the first leg, and was on the losing side in the return fixture as Sevilla went out.
In total it was one goal and one assist in 673 minutes of football. His mission was to revive his own fortunes and give Sevilla some of the thrust they were lacking but there was failure on both fronts – they wanted a player who would be direct and dynamic but all attempts at that were left hamstrung.
‘It’s always hard for players arriving in the winter window,’ said Julen Lopetegui before the end of the campaign.
West Ham ended Sevilla’s hopes of winning another Europa League title at the last-16 stage
Martial went off with a hamstring injury as Sevilla lost 3-2 to Real Madrid in a big league clash
‘We want to help him reach his best level because we need him. But obviously he also needs to adapt to the team.’
He was able to speak to Martial in English because the player could not speak Spanish. And he did not need to be won over by the France international’s quality. It was never about the coach not believing in the player.
‘He’s good both technically and physically and he is powerful and versatile,’ he had enthused on Martial’s arrival.
‘He can play on the left where he played many times for Manchester United. He can play at centre-forward. He will adapt according to what we ask from him.
‘He can give us that touch of quality at the end of a move. He can also make us a little bit more vertical in wide areas.’
Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui defended Martial’s performances after his loan spell flopped
There is still a sense at Sevilla that Martial and Sevilla could have been the perfect fit. And when Sevilla’s Director General Jose Maria Cruz spoke recently he appeared not to be ruling out Martial’s return next summer.
He said the player liked the club and the city and defended him saying: ‘Just when he began to get used to the coach’s system he started to pick up injuries. He didn’t get the run of games he wanted.’
But short of Martial being offered on loan again with no loan fee charged and more than half of his £240,000-per-week wages paid then it will not happen.
Sevilla’s financial situation is such that they recently had to sell one of their best defenders to Aston Villa. Diego Carlos’ partner Jules Kounde is likely to leave this summer too.
Martial simply hasn’t lived up to the promise he showed during his first season at Man United
They are a Champions League side but can’t prevent raids from mid-table English teams. There is not the money to gamble a place in the squad on a player who – albeit because of injury – never got up to speed.
And even if the club’s Sporting Director Monchi believes it is still a gamble worth taking – it would be hard to sell it to supporters who were left cold by what they saw last season.
He earned a lot of money and didn’t offer anything, was one fan’s verdict on the deal that excited Lopetegui but that ultimately just never got out of first gear.
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