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It’s beginning to look as though Manchester United may have a difficult decision to make over Anthony Martial’s future after a loan bid from Sevilla was knocked back this week.
Martial went public with his desire to quit Old Trafford earlier this month, but interim boss Ralf Rangnick has already made it clear that the striker will only be allowed to leave if it suits the club.
Sevilla’s early attempt to test that resolve failed to come to fruition, but it’s likely that the La Liga club will return to the table to try and thrash out an agreement to take Martial on loan for the remainder of the season.
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Although a short-term loan deal isn’t likely to be United’s preference when it comes to offloading Martial, they should remember the harsh lessons they’ve already learned this season in relation to Jesse Lingard’s future.
United adopted a similar stance with Lingard, who restored his reputation during a stunning six-month loan spell with West Ham last year.
The 29-year-old netted nine times in just 16 Premier League games for the Hammers to reinvigorate a career that had stagnated over the past couple of years.
Unsurprisingly, Lingard’s resurgence in east London had clubs interested in offering the winger a fresh start in the summer.
But after forcing his way back into the England set-up off the back of his brief stint at West Ham, Lingard opted to try and do the same at his boyhood club rather than head for pastures new.
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United were happy to keep Lingard around and resisted the temptation to cash in on the academy graduate with his stock back on the rise.
In hindsight, it’s a decision that hasn’t worked out for anyone – and is something worth bearing in mind for United when they consider how to handle the current predicament with Martial.
Lingard is now in the final six months of his contract at Old Trafford and looks nailed on to depart for a cut-price fee in January or for nothing in the summer; just months after United had reportedly slapped a £30million valuation on the attacker.
Although there is no risk of Martial running down his deal like Lingard, the Old Trafford hierarchy will be desperate to avoid a repeat of the Lingard situation.
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Given that the Frenchman still has two-and-a-half years left to run on his contract, it’s not a surprise that United are determined to recoup a decent chunk of the £36m that was forked over to acquire his services – although, it’s thought that figure has risen due to a number of clause-related bonuses.
But it’s unlikely that Martial is going to attract any potential suitors by spending the second half of the season rotting on the bench.
Even if United are unenthused by Sevilla’s loan bid, it may make sense to cut their losses and perhaps even allow the La Liga outfit to lowball them initially to put the striker in the shop window for six months.
On paper, it certainly seems a far wiser strategy than to keep an unhappy player hanging around for no reason as his value diminishes week by week.
And after dropping the ball with Lingard already this season, it’s a mistake that United can ill-afford to make again.
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