At the age of 21, Anthony Martial is a better player than Thierry Henry. These are not the words of any odd football commentator or pundit but from the mouth of the Arsenal legend.
It’s a bold claim to make, but the potential that the young Frenchman possesses is best seen by the man who many think is the player Martial will become when he reaches that potential.
Jose Mourinho has not given Martial the opportunity in many Premier League games this season, starting Marcus Rashford ahead of him, but with a 4-2-31 it has allowed the Manchester United boss to swap them in midweek competitions.
Yet against Tottenham Hotspur, it was Martial who stole the show off the bench, scoring off a scuffed shot in the 81st minute in the Red Devils’ biggest match of the season.
So it was expected that against Benfica the Frenchman would continue his excellent form, even though questions over his consistency are like a cloud over Martial’s head.
In just under 15 minutes you could tell the winger was in a mood to provide the twists and turns that would repeatedly torture the Benfica back-line.
No surprise then that a burst of acceleration won United a penalty early on, with Martial forcing Douglas to lose his footing to handle the ball in the box.
Even though Martial missed the penalty, a courageous save from the maturing 18-year-old Mile Svilar, he continued to deliver an ironically scary display on the wing, on Halloween.
The Frenchman’s blistering pace tore through the away side’s defences throughout the match but the problem was that in the decisive moment Martial’s thought process became cloudy, and time and time again made the wrong decision to pass or dribble in the final third of the pitch.
Although Martial and Lukaku could not combine last night in the same manner as they did at the weekend, there is also a feeling that a blossoming partnership is forming.
This was best displayed in the first half when the Belgian constantly looked up towards his left to work out the potential trajectory of Martial’s curling crosses into the box.
In the league, Martial has scored as many goals (4) than the whole of last season’s campaign. And yet his performances in the Champions League have also delighted the thousands of partisan Red Devils supporters.
That tells a tale that his consistency is improving. The raw talent is evident and if Martial follows clear advice and heads towards the right direction then there is no doubt that he can reach his potential.