Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was in the stands as his new club slumped to a demoralizing 0-1 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace in the final game of the 2021-22 Premier League campaign which confirmed the club’s sixth place finish. The campaign saw the defensive unit concede 57 goals, the most they have ever conceded since the start of the Premier League.
He knows that the defensive unit as a whole needs new faces and that is the reason he prioritized a deal for Feyenoord full-back Tyrell Malacia and has identified Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez to join him next at Carrington.
🚨 It looks like Lisandro Martínez has NOT reported back at Ajax training today with the rest of the players who returned from holiday.
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) July 6, 2022
The 24-year-old was scheduled to rejoin pre-season training at the Dutch champions after an extended break following his international exertions. However, the Newell’s Old Boys academy product was conspicuous by his absence, even as the rest of his international teammates rejoined training.
This seems to be a clear indication that a deal is close to completion.
Ajax seem destined to lose their centre-back and were holding out for £50 million and were hoping Arsenal’s interest in the player might start a bidding war. Arsenal have already had two bids rejected for the Argentina international.
Ten Hag’s insistence on getting the deal done and the player’s keenness on reuniting with his former boss has seen the Dutch champions willing to negotiate a lesser fee with United. The price being quoted currently is around £40 million and United are in the driver’s seat.
Martinez would solve multiple problems
Martinez is a versatile defender who can play as the left centre-back and is equally adept as a defensive midfielder. United are currently lacking quality in both areas of the pitch and the purchase of the Argentine can prove to be an astute acquisition.
In games where a bit of bite is needed in midfield, Martinez can double up as a defensive midfielder. Perhaps that is the reason why Ten Hag is not targeted an out-and-out combatant in the middle of the park because of his former player’s ability.
The Ajax Player of the Year might only be 5ft 9in but his tenaciousness, tackling ability and passing range has impressed all and sundry.
Comparisons with compatriot Javier Mascherano have risen due to their similar style of play as well as the positions they can occupy across the pitch.
He is a hugely popular figure in the Dutch capital but his sale would represent a great business deal for the Eredivisie champions.
Ten Hag was the manager who bought him for only €7m as a replacement for the departing Matthijs De Ligt and turned him into a star and it is hoped he will shine even brighter for United.