Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has performed an about-turn and urged bosses to secure the long-term future of Anthony Martial.
The France forward is playing hardball in the final 12 months of his current deal after turning down a new contract and insisting on bigger wages.
The Old Trafford boss has endured a difficult relationship with Martial since taking charge and has been willing to sell him on several occasions.
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But United have refused and Mourinho has changed his mind and admitted the 22-year-old is crucial to his future plans.
Mourinho said: “I don’t belong to the discussions of contracts. To be honest I don’t even know their contracts in the sense of numbers and I’m really happy with that, not participating in these kind of discussions.
“But obviously I hope they will agree. Obviously I hope. One thing is that he’s a talented player that everybody knows he is.
“Everybody knows since he was in Monaco that he is a talented player. Another thing is a talented player with consistency and understanding what a football match is in the globality.
“When you reach that level, or when you are almost reaching that level, is when you become a top player. One thing is top talent, another is a top player.
“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. Hopefully he is going to stay.”