Jose Mourinho wants rejuvenated Anthony Martial to sign a contract extension and continue his journey to the top with Manchester United.
Just a few months ago it seemed a matter of when rather than if the talented forward would be heading for pastures new, with questions lingering over the 23-year-old’s happiness and relationship with the United manager.
Martial’s agent Philippe Lamboley said in June that his client wanted to leave Old Trafford and Press Association Sport understands Mourinho was willing to sell the forward in the summer – a time when the Portuguese fined him for the way he left their American pre-season tour for the birth of his second child.
Reports have bubbled along about the forward’s future with his contract expiring next summer and, while United are almost certain to trigger the one-year extension clause, Mourinho wants Martial tied down for longer.
“I don’t belong to the discussions of contracts,” the United boss said.
“To be honest, I don’t even know their contracts in the sense of numbers and I’m really happy with that, of not participating in these kinds of discussions.
“So, obviously, I hope they will agree. Obviously, I hope.
“One thing is that he’s a talented player that everybody knows he is – since he was in Monaco, everybody knows he was a talented player.
“Another thing is, a talented player with consistency and understanding of what a football match is in the globality.
“So, when you reach that level or when you are almost reaching that level, it’s when you become a player – what I say, a top player.
“Because one thing is top talent, another is top player.
“So, when he is now much closer to being a top player, obviously I would like him to stay.
“I know the club wants him very much to stay, so hopefully he is going to stay.”
Four goals from his last four games led Martial to be crowned United’s player of the month for October – a marked change in fortunes under the Portuguese that is similar to the one managed by similarly-revitalised Luke Shaw.
The duo have been the unlikely stars of a frustrating season, which leaves eighth-placed United three points and two places worse off than Saturday’s opponents Bournemouth.
“Lack of goals and too many goals conceded,” Mourinho said of United’s issues. “I think everything is about the team.
“I don’t like to say we don’t score many goals because our strikers are not scoring. I don’t like to say we concede too many goals because my goalkeeper does not save anything.
“I think it is about the globality, it is about the team.
“We need obviously to score more goals and we were punished against Chelsea because we didn’t score the third goal and we could.
“We went to minute 96 against Everton with a corner because we didn’t score the third, the fourth or the fifth before that.
“So, yes, we need to score more goals, but I think the team with more confidence, the players individually with more confidence, and more goals will arrive for them.
“(Romelu) Lukaku doesn’t score for nine matches. 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.”
Another attacker under scrutiny is Marcus Rashford, who turned 21 this week and will be hoping to add to his solitary United goal for the campaign on the south coast.
“I think he’s having fantastic conditions to develop,” Mourinho said. “He’s still developing but he’s having fantastic conditions.
“Since Mr (Louis) Van Gaal brought him to the team, then I come, and he played with me a lot.
“Played in the national team with Sam (Allardyce) and then with Gary (Gareth Southgate), playing the World Cup, playing the Europa League final, playing two FA Cup finals.
“He’s having incredible opportunities to develop, which I think is what he’s doing but sometimes I think the pressure is probably too high.
“He just turned 21. How many players at 21 had more game time in a big club, in a big country national team?
“How many players are having this kind of opportunities to develop their potential? Not many.
“From my point of view, a little pressure will help him to achieve what he can achieve.”