Manchester United have set their sights on Lisandro Martinez, rather than his defensive partner Jurrien Timber, to help solve their centre-back troubles.
That is according to top-tier Dutch journalist Mike Verweij, a report which The People’s Person brought you earlier today.
Both defenders have immense potential, but there are reasons beyond availability that have led to Erik ten Hag’s pursuit of the Argentine as a Summer 2022 target.
Chief among them is that Manchester United have not had a left-footed centre-half in the squad since Marcos Rojo’s departure to Estudiantes in January of 2020.
One could even argue that they have not had a technically proficient one since Daley Blind left after Louis van Gaal’s tenure in 2015.
A host of top managers see a left-footed central defender as vital in providing a variety of passing options when building play from deep, and Ten Hag is certainly among those who share in that school of thought.
United’s search for such a defender goes back even to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure, who was seen expressing his interest in Nathan Ake shortly before the Bournemouth player’s £40m transfer to the blue half of Manchester.
There is often a premium to pay for a left foot at the back, however with a touted price of €40m, Martinez looks like a bargain – particularly for a player voted as Ajax’s Player of the Season last term.
While Timber is the Dutch jewel of the Ajax backline, what the Argentinian offers is a far more polished defender and one who is ready to step up to the Premier League.
Martinez wins more than twice as many aerial duels than his defensive partner per 90 minutes (3.3 compared to 1.5), despite both being fairly short in centre-half terms.
The aggressive, front-foot style of defending Martinez offers is juxtaposed with his composure on the ball, and his progressive passing was a deadly weapon for Ajax last season.
He completed 5.4 long balls per 90 in the Eredivisie (1.7 per game for Timber) and this ability to mix up his side’s tempo would be much appreciated at Old Trafford, where the lethargic nature of build-up play has long been a source of frustration.
At 24 years of age, Lisandro is an established international with three years of top-flight European football to his name and it is this experience that has made him a leader in Amsterdam.
While 20-year-old Jurrien Timber has an abundance of potential, he still has plenty of room for development and continuing in a key role at Ajax seems by far the best way to continue it.
In contrast, Lisandro Martinez immediately fills a gaping hole in the United squad and looks ready to bring grit, composure and class to the first team squad straight away.
That does not indicate that Timber is no longer a target – perhaps just one for Summer 2023.
After all, United do seem to need a new centre back every year.