LONDON • Anthony Martial is considering signing a five-year contract with Manchester United because he thinks that he can outlast his beleaguered manager Jose Mourinho, who does not want him at Old Trafford.
Despite receiving the board's public backing, Mourinho's position will be scrutinised if United lose away to Burnley on Sunday to make it three Premier League losses in a row.
Martial's contract situation is the latest example of the split that exists between Mourinho and United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward with regard to the club's direction.
Mourinho told friends this summer that he wanted to get rid of Martial because he was unhappy about his attitude.
But Woodward vetoed the sale and has continued planning to tie the 22-year-old to a long-term deal.
The Frenchman's current contract, if United activate a 12-month option, is set to expire in the summer of 2020, and the former Monaco forward is set to commit his future to the club, if, as is expected, he feels that he can outstay Mourinho.
If Martial signs his new deal, which is worth about £130,000 (S$231,000) a week, it will be a blow to Mourinho, who has had a difficult relationship with him.
The Portuguese boss dropped him from his squad for Monday's 3-0 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur because he was disappointed with his performance in the previous 3-2 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion.
United fined Martial £180,000 for failing to keep in touch after he returned to France for the birth of his second child in the middle of the pre-season tour to the United States.
Sources close to the player said that Martial was hurt by the fine and insisted that he had permission to leave the camp.
Martial is in a similar situation to Luke Shaw, who wants to stay but also has had an uneasy relationship with Mourinho and is wary about committing his future to the club while he remains in charge.
The England left-back's deal expires next June and he is in no rush to sign a new contract.
In a move that shows a siege mentality developing at the club, United sent a message to their supporters on their official app on Wednesday, which read: "We have to stick together - it's United against the world!"
When fans clicked on the message, they were directed to an MUTV interview with former United captain Bryan Robson in which he defended Mourinho.
"We have got to stick together because nobody outside the club is going to stick with United," he said.
"This is a time when you dig in together in the trenches, pull for each other and get that confidence back. With the squad of players we have got, we can turn this around."
Jesse Lingard, Eric Bailly and David de Gea all tweeted messages with a similar theme yesterday.
Lingard wrote: "Stay Positive And Keep The Faith . . . #UnitedTogether."
De Gea tweeted a picture of him and his team-mates arm in arms with the message: "United more than ever", while Bailly posted the same picture on Twitter, saying: "Now more than ever. Together."
Despite the swirling rumours, Mourinho took charge of training - which was the squad's first session since the defeat by Spurs, which left United 13th in the league - at Carrington on Wednesday.
One bit of good news for him is that he could have Marcos Rojo for Sunday's game.
The Argentinian centre-back has missed the first three games of the term with an injury but he has returned to full training.
THE TIMES, LONDON