Manchester United are not planning to trigger the one-year extension clause in Anthony Martial’s contract.
As per David Ornstein (The Athletic), the club are instead open to letting the French forward leave in January, should a suitable offer arrive. If such a deal does not materialise, however, United are prepared to let Martial depart Old Trafford as a free agent when his deal expires next summer.
🚨 EXCL: Manchester United do not intend to activate option to extend Anthony Martial contract. Current deal expires 2024 (+ 1yr). Barring change of plan 28yo will exit #MUFC as free agent next summer unless suitable offers arrive in January @TheAthleticFC
— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) December 11, 2023
As is common practice at United, Martial’s currect contract has a ‘plus one’ clause contained within it. This means the club have the option to trigger a one year extension for the Frenchman, should they wish to do so.
With Martial’s deal set to expire next year (July 2024), United officials had reportedly been “discussing” this possibility, rather than allowing Martial’s deal to expire.
This move would have been with the intention of maintaining the forward’s value, however, rather than any tangible desire to see him remain at Old Trafford. And it would have been a mistake.
One of the defining features of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson malaise at United has been the constant rewarding of mediocrity; contracts gifted to players who fall far short of the requisite level, in a delusional attempt to ‘maintain value.’
It’s a Woodwardian concept, predicated upon Glazernomics, which belongs firmly in the past. Sometimes a clean break, even if it is financially costful in the short-term, is needed.
Martial’s current deal amounts to an excess of £13 million a year in wages. If United were to extend this contract by twelve months, they would be committing to a £13 million investment on a player not wanted by his manager, nor his fanbase. And the reason for such a decision would be, in large part, driven by the prospect of selling Martial for a fee in excess of this £13 million – to produce a profit on the investment.
Does any serious football fan think United are going to be able to generate a transfer fee anywhere close to that number for a player as inconsistent, indolent and injury-prone as Martial? If you do, I have some magic beans going on sale this Friday.
Which is why Ornstein’s update is such a significant update – it constitutes a break from the mistakes of the past at United. While this move alone will not move the needle, it could be a moment we look back on with hindsight as the start of the end of the acceptance of mediocrity at United.
Martial arrived to Manchester with propitious promise; he is set to depart in abject apathy. The fact the Frenchman has survived as long as he has at Old Trafford, with no discernible reason to do so, encapsulates exactly why the club has declined in the manner it has.