With Manchester United’s season coming to a close, one point from their final two league games will secure Champions League qualification and underline a strong campaign under a new regime.
Erik ten Hag arrived last summer with a plan and the first part of that plan was to attempt to reset the culture at Old Trafford, which was on its knees after a disastrous end to the last campaign.
To do this, Ten Hag knew he needed some of his own, and immediately set his sights on former Ajax centre-back, Lisandro Martinez.
The duo’s previous relationship helped United fend off interest from Arsenal to secure the services of Ten Hag’s lieutenant.
United parted with over £50 million to get Martinez to Manchester and it didn’t take long for the question marks to arise.
Ten Hag suffered back-to-back defeats at the start of the season, which left a lot of fingers pointing at the height and lack of presence of his trusted defender.
But the boss stood firm and persisted with a player he just knew would come good. And how right he was.
Martinez has proved an inspired signing and well in the mix to be United’s Player of the Season.
David de Gea‘s Golden Glove win owes a lot to the partnership built in front of him between Martinez and Raphael Varane.
Martinez, the fire to Varane’s ice, has chalked up an impressive eight clean sheets and hasn’t made one error that has lead to a shot at his goalkeepers goal, let alone causing United to concede.
There was also no need to worry about his size, the Argentine has won over 50% of his aerial duels this season due to his excellent timing and reading of the game.
This, coupled with 111 overall duels won and impressive 97 clearances, his presence in United’s defence has been remarkable.
More important to the defensive stats, Martinez has brought a fear factor back to United’s back line with his determination and bite, which cannot be quantified.
On top of his defensive skills, Martinez ability on the ball is outstanding and is sorely missed when he doesn’t play.
He has completed a whopping 93% of passes attempted in his own half and is absolutely key to Ten Hag’s philosophy of playing out from the back.
His stats are equally as impressive when he moves forward, completing 76% of his passes in the oppositions half.
Martinez also boasts a 100% take on record, which underlines his ability with the ball at his feet.
He has even chipped in with a goal, stooping to nod United level at the Emirates back in January.
Oh, and there was also so the small matter of winning the World Cup with Argentina to cap off what has been a wonderful season for United’s Butcher from Argentina.
All stats from sofascore.com
Imagine an FA Cup Final programme, but 100% online!
With just a couple of clicks you could be reading the FA Cup final special edition of United Matchday Magazine, right here on your device. All the latest news, meet the teams, tactical preview, opinion, debate, transfer news, quiz and much more! Get yours now for just £3/$3.75 and
be in the know about everything in red!