The report in the Standard today that we will prioritise a move for Anthony Martial in the summer is an intriguing one. It looks as though the main reason why Mauricio Pochettino is looking at the Frenchman is his versatility.
In previous transfer windows, the club have repeatedly looked at conventional strikers to provide backup for Harry Kane, but with the long list of failures, it seems we are going to go in a slightly different direction.
The French international is described as a forward, but during his time in England, he has more often than not been employed on the wing.
Before arriving at Manchester United, he was almost exclusively used as a central striker, but after his switch in 2015, 93 out of his 136 appearances have been on the left or right-hand side of an attacking trio.
Only in 36 appearances has he played as an out and out striker, with a goal to games ratio of 1 in 4. The 22-year-old actually has a better record scoring from wide positions so on the face of it, it does seem an unsatisfactory solution.
Yet, for me, it is more sensible than punting on another striker who will just come to sit on the bench. As I mentioned in a previous post, all number nines need rhythm to score goals. Coming off the bench for 20 minutes or getting a start once a month is unlikely to get you much return in terms of goals.
Choosing to go with a different type of player, one that can play in different positions is probably a safer bet. Not only will he offer you tactical flexibility when required if other options are unavailable, it also means that if Harry does get injured, his replacement won’t be thrust in without match practice.
They may have played a number of games out wide whilst our no.10 is fit, but if he is sidelined, they will be match sharp and ready to fill in through the middle. It doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be Martial. There are other options on the market, but it’s a solution that could bear fruit.
We could simply use Son, but that removes one of our options in wider areas. Having another option through the middle is definitely something this squad could benefit from.