Thibaut Courtois raised his eyebrows and laughed when asked if Manchester United forward Anthony Martial was an elite striker this summer.
The Belgian never actually played in goal against Martial during his time at Chelsea before moving to Real Madrid, he might get the chance to in the Champions League next season.
As part of media duties at the Belgian training camp during the European Championship the former Chelsea goalkeeper was asked by Jan Vertonghen to name the best players not to be involved in this summer’s tournament.
Erling Haaland and Virgil van Dijk both got recognisable sympathy, the same was not said for the United striker who managed only 7 goals in 36 appearances last season.
Martial, 25, is no longer the same charming French youngster who arrived six years ago full of promise from AS Monaco. Although still similarly fresh faced, his popularity is dwindling at Old Trafford, this summer could be his final chance to save it.
Yet as the goals dried up last season so did his hype. Martial is no longer the youngster with an exciting future ahead of him, he is a striker low on confidence entering what should be the prime of his career.
Missing out on a place in the France squad for Euro 2020 was a further dent to Martial’s confidence, though he could have little complaint compared with the output of his rivals for a spot in Didier Deschamps’ squad.
It’s fair to say this summer could well be his most crucial at United. Plans for a new striker are on hold for another year, meaning time is running out if Martial is to ever stake his claim as a starter once again.
Edinson Cavani remains Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s most trusted option through the middle, but there are hopes Greenwood will soon be up to the physical challenge of playing as a true No.9 in the Premier League too.
Further down the pipeline excitement is building for teenage duo Joe Hugill and Charlie McNeil – United’s two highest scorers at youth level in their respective debut campaigns, though both are some way off senior stardom.
News of impending shoulder surgery for Rashford keeps Martial’s hopes of first-team football alive even amid the imminent arrival of Jadon Sancho as further competition for a sacred starting spot.
Sancho’s capability of playing on either flank might mean Martial’s playing time is restricted to that solely of a striker – it could prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Rashford’s lay-off coupled with fitness concerns for Cavani mean Martial could start the season as second choice through the middle, as Greenwood still currently favours a role cutting in from the right wing.
It could prove to be a sliding doors moment for Martial ahead of a few weeks which might define his lasting legacy – if any – in English football.
A productive pre-season will be crucial in building fresh confidence ahead of the new campaign but if he manages that then the Frenchman could enter the new season with rejuvenated self-belief and greater performances on the pitch as a result.
Courtois might have changed his mind on Martial by winter.