“Anthony is a vital player for us. He’s got different attributes – when he’s in a good mood, it affects other people.”
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke about his French striker Anthony Martial on Wednesday when he was previewing Thursday’s Europa League tie with Partizan Belgrade, and in terms of impact this season, he has warranted his manager’s praise.
The 23-year-old Frenchman boasts a goal involvement every 105 minutes in 2019-20, one of the best rates in Europe.
But just how important is he?
United have played 16 games so far this season, of which Martial has featured in just eight because of injury.
In those games, they have double the number of wins than when he is absent, averaging exactly one goal per game more.
Indeed, Martial’s presence in past weeks has helped others, with the manager lauding his ability to improve the effectiveness of strike partner Marcus Rashford.
“Since Anthony has come back, Marcus has flourished.” Solksjaer said before Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Bournemouth.
“He’s probably happier facing goal and being direct, driving at people, taking players on rather than being a target man with his back to goal.”
The 22-year-old Englishman has flourished playing under the Norwegian, increasing his chances created per game from 0.76 to 1.14.
In matches where Martial has appeared alongside him, their joint improvement has been even more stark.
Under Mourinho’s guidance, United statistically gained better results when one or both of the two was sidelined.
In contrast, under Solskjaer the team has performed far better when the pair have been available, as well as averaging 0.6 more goals per game.
Plagued by inconsistency of form and fitness since he arrived at Old Trafford, Martial seems to have found his feet during his fifth season with the club.
Explaining his recent hamstring injury, Solksjaer said: “He was working too hard early on, which made him re-hurt his injury.”
Since his return to fitness, he has scored at Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League and in a 3-1 league victory over Norwich City.
Martial’s impact in the Premier League has been particularly impressive.
He has nearly tripled United’s chances of winning in the 14 games he’s featured in since Solskjaer took charge last December, compared to the 18 he’s missed.