Having set one record as football’s most expensive teenager, recent signing Anthony Martial has another one in sight when Manchester United play at home to struggling Sunderland at Old Trafford on Saturday.
A goal would make him the first United player since Ian Storey-Moore in 1972 to score on his first three league appearances for the club — the first therefore in the Premier League era.
Eyebrows were raised when United paid Monaco 36.3 million pounds ($55.15 million)for the 19-year-old last month and when it was revealed that the fee could eventually rise as high as 58.8 million pounds.
Supporters have already been won over, however, by his three goals against Liverpool and Southampton, followed by another as a substitute in the League Cup tie against Ipswich Town.
Manager Louis van Gaal is trying to play down the hype but agreed that Martial had done all that could be expected of him at such an early stage of his Old Trafford career.
“It’s a little bit luck, a little bit quality of the player and also his fellow players,” the Dutchman told a news conference on Friday.
“Liverpool had to (attack) and his qualities are stronger when a team has to (attack). The same with Ipswich Town.
“But the main thing is his quality. As a player he has to do it, has to cope with the pressure. What we have seen till now is that he can do it.
“He’s an open guy, he’s listening and watching and focusing on the matches. For a manager he’s a very coachable player and that’s also why I like him and why I bought him.”
Van Gaal said he felt sorry for his compatriot and former team mate Dick Advocaat, the manager of Sunderland, who are without a win in six games this season after just avoiding relegation in May.
“I feel for Dick as a human being. He is a friend and we played together at Sparta Rotterdam,” Van Gaal said. “I hope Sunderland win every game — apart from against us.”
United, having cut Manchester City’s lead at the top of the table to two points, must decide who plays at left back with Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Paddy McNair all injured.