Domestic football took a break this weekend, after last Tuesday’s deadline day madness, perhaps it was for the best. Unfortunately, it gave sections of the media far too much time to over-analyse the moves clubs made.
The word “overpriced” has been regularly mentioned in the same breath as Manchester United’s new signing Anthony Martial, often by people who have seen nothing more than a glimpse during Arsenal’s Champions League defeat to Monaco last season.
But their opinion must be heard.
There is no doubting that the deal starting at €50 million for a 19-year-old is a lot of money – but in the ever-increasing budget of the Premier League, it doesn’t amount to the same level that a similar fee would have meant three or four years ago.
You are only worth what someone is willing to pay for you, and Manchester United had to up their bid to what Monaco demanded to make sure they got their man. With the Monegasque club in no rush to sell one of their prize assets, it was never going to be a fee that favoured the English club.
To make matters worse, this week the CIES Football Observatory smacked a huge “overpriced” label on Martial’s head with figures from their latest calculations.
Using a player's age, position, contract, international status, experience and level of competition to determine, CIES can estimate their transfer value. They reported that Martial was worth no more than €22.1 million – and as a plain monetary value, they are probably right – but that doesn’t factor in Monaco’s negotiations, how much United needed a striker, plus the player’s potential worth to the Red Devils.
On the flipside they also estimated that Raheem Sterling was worth €95.1 million – suggesting that Manchester City underpaid by €32 million. At that point any sliver of sense leaves the building – someone needs to run a virus scan on the CIES computers.
They are both players with a different style, previously playing for different clubs in different leagues, but the gap is not that big.
Sterling played 95 games for Liverpool over four seasons. He scored 18 goals for the Anfield club, but threw a temper tantrum to make sure he was sold this summer.
It’s clear that he won’t be welcomed back to Merseyside with open arms.
Over three seasons, Martial played 49 games and scored 11 goals. To suggest that the English forward is worth four times more than the Frenchman is ludicrous.
This summer, the 19-year-old signed a new deal at the Stade Louis II, making sure that Monaco would get the best possible deal when they did decide to sell him. Unlike with Sterling, the ball was definitely in the club’s court.
It will take Martial more time than Sterling to find his feet in the English game, but both are players that have undoubted potential.
The former Olympique Lyonnais forward took one step towards fulfilling one of the bonus criteria this week, earning his first two international caps for his country. Against Portugal and Serbia he came off the bench, didn’t make much of an impact, but has a valuable 30 minutes under his belt.
Just five years and 13 days ago, a 14-year-old Martial played his first international game for France, taking on Belgium at Under-16 level – it would take him 64 minutes to score his first goal – it was the beginning of something special.
At all levels he has played 53 games for France: scored nine goals at U16, another nine at U17, three at U18 and four in 12 games for the Under-21s. Wherever, whenever the young forward plays, he finds a way to score goals.
As he has only played 30 minutes for Les Bleus, it is too early to cast aspersions, or make predictions. Yet, with Olivier Giroud struggling to make his mark in Didier Deschamps team since the World Cup and Karim Benzema's place constantly debated around the country, there is a space for a mobile, athletic, goal-scoring No.9.
Manchester United needed a goal-scorer, it may have come from left-field, but regardless of the fee, Louis van Gaal now has his centre-forward.
Using the pace and directness of Memphis Depay out-wide and the enterprise and sleek passing that Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney can bring, Martial should be presented with numerous opportunities to make an impact at Old Trafford.
It really doesn't matter how much you value the teenage striker, or what a study believes he is worth. The fee is now insignificant, he is a Manchester United player.
The young French forward is starting a new chapter of his career. No one knows how this particular story will end, but as the previous pages have already alluded too, one thing Martial will guarantee you...is goals.