Wantaway striker Anthony Martial can revive his Manchester United career if he displays the same aggressive mindset as Cristiano Ronaldo.
That’s according to former United striker Louis Saha, who also told Stats Perform that it is up to new interim manager Ralf Rangnick to get the best out of Paul Pogba.
Martial’s agent revealed last week that the French international, who has spent the past six years at United, is keen to leave in January due to lack of time this season.
The former Monaco forward Martial has only played 358 minutes of football for the Red Devils in all competitions this season – the 20th most in the squad – and has only played four times.
He scored 17 goals under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer two seasons ago, but scored only four times in all competitions last season and only once this season.
But Saha doesn’t think it’s too late for Martial – who hasn’t appeared on a team for the day in Rangnick’s three games as a bench – to get his United career back on track.
“He needs a big change in his mentality,” Saha said of his compatriot. “I’ve heard he doesn’t listen to critics, he just protects himself and his self-esteem and everything.
“Sometimes you have to listen. You have to listen to the critics and understand that you have so much potential and that is why you have been criticized, because you can do so much more.
“The mentality that Cristiano is showing is something you must have as number nine. And number nine at the moment is Martial.
“So he really needs to be very aggressive. And this is what I want because I think he is a fantastic player and not because he is French.
“I love his potential when he plays with full confidence, he is simply unstoppable. I see him being part of this squad when there is the right aggressiveness in his approach to matches.
“Maybe you can last four or five games, 70 minutes because you can’t take it anymore, but then you go to 80 minutes and then to 90 minutes”.
Martial isn’t the only Frenchman facing an uncertain future at Old Trafford, with midfielder Pogba now in the final six months of his contract.
Rangnick said last week that it’s not his job to persuade Pogba, who is out until 2022 with a thigh injury he sustained last month, to sign a new deal.
Despite playing only 13 of United’s 22 games in all competitions this season, Pogba’s seven assist count is only improved by Bruno Fernandes (eight) among his teammates.
In fact, each of those assists have made nine Premier League appearances.
Of those who have played as many games in the top five European leagues this season, only Angers midfielder Mathias Pereira Lage (1.08) and Cologne’s Louis Schaub (1.24) have seen more goals in 90 minutes than Pogba ( 1).
And Saha insists there’s a place in United for Pogba once he’s recovered from injury, even though his style of play isn’t necessarily suitable for a Rangnick-trained team.
“It’s not like all players need to push,” said Saha, who spent four years at United before leaving in 2008. “That’s not how football is.
“Some players have a great quality to do it and some can read the games and they can be the counterattack in some way. There are so many combinations.
“This is where balance is really important for a manager. You have to find the right kind of formula for the players to express themselves at their best.
“Paul Pogba is not very well known and you will never be famous for lobbying and being like N’Golo Kante. It’s not just its quality. Its quality is elsewhere “.
Pogba is often criticized, but Saha urged his compatriot to speak up where it matters most.
“This is the problem for Paul. It’s not about quality and it’s not about mentality. When he’s on the pitch, he never hides, he works, he works, “Saha said.
“Play, have fun, work hard, talk on the pitch. I don’t want to hear anyone talk and I know it.
“And you can see the best players like [Lionel] Messi, Ronaldo, they don’t need to talk. Nobody is talking. You don’t need to defend yourself when you perform. “