Manchester United to Reportedly Lose Anthony Martial as Part of Willian Transfer

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2018

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - MAY 13:  Willian of Chelsea is seen during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Chelsea at St. James Park on May 13, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Manchester United are reportedly set to make a last-minute bid to sign Willian from Chelsea this summer and are said to be ready to include Anthony Martial as part of any deal.

According to Steve Bates of the Sunday People (h/t the Mirror), United boss Jose Mourinho is a big admirer of Willian, having worked with the player at Stamford Bridge. Bates suggested that all is not well between the player and the Blues.

"The South American has already irritated new Blues boss Maurizio Sarri by arriving back late from his summer break, citing an expired passport as the reason," Bates said. "And Willian has added to growing disquiet by publicly stating that an agent claiming to have a mandate to negotiate his transfer doesn’t have authority to act for him."

Bates also noted that Mourinho is losing patience with Martial and is ready to include him in any transfer that would see Willian move to Old Trafford.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 20: Anthony Martial of Manchester United celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 0-1 during the Premier League match between Burnley and Manchester United at Turf Moor on January 20, 2018 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Robbie
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

It's said that while the United board still has faith the France international will come good, the manager doesn't have the same belief. James Robson of the Manchester Evening News said recently that Martial's departure would also make room for Mourinho to add a different dimension to his attack:

James Robson @JamesRobsonMEN

Martial’s exit would smooth the way for Mourinho to bring in the winger he wants - Perisic, Bale and Willian all on his wanted list #MUFC

Willian has provided that in the past when working under the Portuguese and, in many respects, is the perfect wide player for a Mourinho system.

The Brazil international is capable of animating a game in the final third with a blistering burst into space or a sharp piece of skill, but he's not one to shirk his defensive responsibilities, either. Willian is happy to track back and cover a full-back or dip inside to tighten midfield.

Still, Willian turns 30 on Thursday, and Alex Shaw of ESPN FC believes Mourinho's interest in the player tells us plenty about Mourinho's endgame at Old Trafford:

Alex Shaw @AlexShawESPN

Mourinho signing Sanchez and wanting Willian, Alderweireld (all 30 next season) tells you everything you need to know about his plans. Typically precarious: it's either short term success (and then a rebuild for successor) or it's all going to blow up.

Martial, by contrast, is a 22-year-old rough diamond. While there is evidently tension between the player and Mourinho, with the right kind of guidance, the former Monaco man can go to the top of the game.

However, with Alexis Sanchez's arrival in January and with Marcus Rashford also in the picture, the competition on the left flank is fierce at Old Trafford. Still, journalist Carl Anka doesn't want to see Martial go:

Carl Anka @Ankaman616

I am so fed up of Manchester United. A swap deal for Willian? Put Martial on a 2 year loan. Have Jose implode. Bring the boy back after a nice stint at Bayern. https://t.co/NNUZnA1aw2

In the short term, Willian would arguably have a better impact at United. He would provide natural balance on the right flank and plug in quickly to Mourinho's system. However, losing Martial to a domestic rival to get him in would leave plenty who frequent Old Trafford miffed.

Martial lit up the Premier League in his debut campaign and was expected to go on to become a superstar in the top flight. Letting a player with such ability leave may be something the club comes to regret.