Jose Mourinho is keen for Anthony Martial to commit his long-term future to Manchester United by signing a new contract, with the French forward emerging as one of the key players at Old Trafford.
Martial has been one of the most impressive performers in a disappointing season for the club, with five goals from five Premier League starts, and four in his past three appearances.
He has a contract until the end of the season, on terms that give the club an option to extend it for a further year, with discussions under way to agree a deal beyond that.
The 22-year-old’s future at Old Trafford looked uncertain during the summer, with his agent Philippe Lamboley indicating in June that the forward wanted to leave the club, having missed out on a place in France’s World Cup squad.
Mourinho, at the time, was apparently willing to consider a sale, although executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward made clear he wanted to keep him.
Martial’s recent form, including two goals against Chelsea in a 2-2 Premier League draw at Stamford Bridge, has impressed his manager, who feels now that the forward is worth a new contract, despite urging him to be more consistent.
“Obviously, I hope they will agree,” Mourinho said. “Obviously I hope. One thing is that he’s a talented player that everybody knows he is. Everybody knows since he was in Monaco that he is a talented player.”
– Top player –
But he added: “One thing is being a top talent, another is being a top player. He is now much closer to being a top player.”
Mourinho is concerned about United’s blunt attack — they went into the weekend with a goal difference of zero, having both scored and conceded 17 goals in 10 matches.
United, in eighth place, have scored 10 league goals fewer than leaders Manchester City, although they have managed one more than Tottenham, who started the weekend in fifth.
“I don’t like to say we don’t score many goals because our strikers aren’t scoring, I don’t like to say we concede too many goals because my goalkeeper does not save anything,” Mourinho said.
“I think it is about the globality (the overall picture). It is about the team. We need obviously to score more goals.”
Mourinho pointed to United’s failure to be more ruthless in their past two league matches, the draw at Chelsea and the 2-1 home win over Everton, as evidence of a problem that is costing them points.
“We were punished against Chelsea because we didn’t score the third goal and we could,” he said.
“We went to minute 96 against Everton because we didn’t score the third, the fourth, the fifth before that.
“Yes, we need to score more goals but I think the team with more confidence, the players individually with more confidence, will have more goals.”
Mourinho is continuing to offer public support to Romelu Lukaku, who was restricted to a substitute’s appearance against Everton, having failed to score for United since September 15.
“Lukaku doesn’t score for nine matches,” he said.
“Do I think in the next nine matches he’s going to score zero goals? No, I think in the next nine matches he’s going to score a few goals.”