Robert Fernandez, the new sporting director at Barcelona, has hailed the signing of Anthony Martial by Manchester United. Fernandez believes that, despite the high fees linked with the Martial move, the Premier League outfit have got themselves a play with plenty of room to improve. He also confirmed that the Catalan side's main priority is committing the long-term future of Neymar to the Nou Camp, amid speculation linked the Brazilian icon with a move away from the club.
Manchester United confirmed the arrival of the 19-year-old forward on transfer deadline day after agreeing a £36m ($54.8m) fee with Monaco, which could rise to £58m if certain add-on clauses are met. Many pundits, as well as Arsenal gaffer Arsene Wenger, have questioned making a player who has scored just eight Ligue 1 goals the most expensive teenager in football history.
The Daily Mail, however, has quoted an Old Trafford spokesman who justified the fee, claiming that the starlet was chased by a number of top European clubs before the Red Devils captured him. "Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City were all in on pre-contract talks for Martial next season,' the source said. "We paid a premium to get him now. It is similar to what we did with [Cristiano] Ronaldo – and that turned out OK."
Reports in Spain had previously suggested Barcelona were tracking Martial as a possible replacement for Pedro Rodriguez, who has left for Chelsea. While Fernandez refused to confirm these stories, he did admit his fondness for the Frenchman's abilities.
"He is great prospect for the future. He broke through last season and is a very good player," Fernandez said to Mundo Deportivo. "United have paid a lot of money to get him but if a club pay that... he has a huge potential for progression. But I'd rather not talk about players from other clubs."
Fernandez confirmed that Barcelona officials are already working on Neymar's new deal after Sport reported that the club were ready to offer him a pay rise in response to alleged Manchester United interest. "It is not my responsibility but in terms of sport we have it very clear. Officials from the club are already taking care of it."