Manchester United are closing in on their third signing of the summer, after a breakthrough in negotiations for Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez.
The Argentina international has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent weeks and it seems as if the Red Devils have finally reached an agreement with the Eredivisie champions.
Fabrizio Romano confirmed this morning: “Lisandro Martínez to Manchester United, here we go! Full agreement in place between Man United and Ajax for package up to €55m. Lisandro will sign until 2027, documents now approved. #MUFC Deal done – meeting in Amsterdam on Wednesday was the key step. Ten Hag, big factor.”
Lisandro Martínez to Manchester United, here we go! Full agreement in place between Man United and Ajax for package up to €55m. Lisandro will sign until 2027, documents now approved. 🚨🔴 #MUFC
Deal done – meeting in Amsterday on Wednesday was the key step. Ten Hag, big factor. pic.twitter.com/qyYskmgNMU
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 15, 2022
Erik ten Hag is just weeks away from his first competitive game as Man United boss but could be about to welcome plenty of new faces to the club.
Left-back Tyrell Malacia was the first signing of the Ten Hag era earlier this month and it looks as if the club are fully backing the Dutch tactician. Free agent Christian Eriksen becomes the second signing at Old Trafford after extensive medical tests, while a fee has also been reportedly agreed with Barcelona for priority target Frenkie de Jong, along with Martinez who looks set to join the Red Devils on their pre-season tour of Australia, once he completes a medical.
Ten Hag was clearly desperate to reunite with a player that was so pivotal to his Ajax side over the past two seasons, and United supporters will be hoping that he can get the same performances out of Martinez at Old Trafford.
How did Lisandro Martinez fare last season for Ajax?
The 24-year-old, who can also play as a defensive midfielder and at left-back, was one of the top performers for Ajax last season as they won the Dutch Eredivisie title. Only Sebastien Haller and Dusan Tadic would better Martinez’s superb 7.60 average rating from WhoScored, which emphasised just how crucial he was for the Amsterdam outfit.
The versatile £28.8m-rated dynamo represents a stunning acquisition from the United hierarchy and a smart piece of business.
Journalist Casey Evans previously claimed that the defender has a “bulldog-like” approach, and the Argentinian’s stats suggest that this is indeed an accurate assessment.
In 2021/22, the brute won a whopping 69% of his individual duels and made 3.9 tackles and interceptions per game in the Eredivisie – showing that he is an aggressive defender who wins the majority of his 50/50’s. These stats show that he is a physically dominant player. Despite his relatively small 5-foot 9 frame, he is still capable of bulldozing his way past players or bullying them off the ball.
Last season, the Argentina international averaged a phenomenal SofaScore rating of 7.61 too from centre-back as he produced quality displays week-in-week-out in the Netherlands.
As he showed under Ten Hag’s last campaign, Martinez will be absolutely crucial to how the Dutch manager wants his team to play this season, capable of becoming a metronomic figure in possession whilst also being a destructive figure out of it.
It’s unclear where Ten Hag will utilize his Argentinian lieutenant, but Manchester United fans can be rest assured that the 24-year-old will perform consummately and professionally wherever he is asked to play.
Considering none of Man United’s centre-back options would average above a 6.8 rating last season, and also conceding a whopping 57 goals in the Premier League, it was clear that Ten Hag needed to strengthen defensively and he is acquiring a player he knows he can trust.
Lisandro Martinez was probably the best ball-playing defender in the Eredivisie last term. He has some of the most ridiculous passing numbers that we’ve seen and that made him a key weapon for Ajax offensively as well. Because they are a ball-dominant side, the Argentinian was afforded the opportunity to set the play for Ajax and provide those precise passes into forwards, breaking opposition lines as well as penetrating them.
With the Red Devils now looking to become a possession-hungry side like their cross-City rivals, it is incredibly vital to analyse what Martinez would be contributing in that phase, and his stats make for exciting reading on the ball.
As per FBref, he ranks amongst the best centre-backs in Europe’s top five leagues for his possession metrics, ranking in the top 13% for passes attempted per 90 (87.00), top 1% for pass completion % (93.0), top 1% for progressive passes (7.88) and also in the top 4% for progressive carries (6.13).
Lisandro Martinez is a tremendous ball distributor and progressor, and would offer a lot of fine creativity and passing both in the defensive third when building out the back and in the middle third when instigating attacking moves, he also ranks in the top 1% of centre-backs for shot-creating actions per 90 (1.38).
More significantly, with Man United fans calling for a change in the midfield, transitioning from the likes of a midfield pivot of Fred and McTominay, the Red Devils can now boast an extraordinary midfield line with Martinez perfectly capable of filling in front of the defence, along with the incoming pass-masters in Frenkie De Jong and Christian Eriksen – a duo that could certainly pass teams to death in the league next season.
At the age of 24, he also has the potential to improve and is a player Ten Hag can continue to work with on the training pitch to help him develop even further in the years to come and that is a tantalizing sight for the Old Trafford faithful.