Jaap Stam labelled a common criticism of Lisandro Martinez an “easy one”, and explained how Erik ten Hag’s outlook differs to the average English viewpoint.
Manchester United committed to around £57m (including add-ons) to sign Lisandro Martinez from Ajax. The Argentine was also in Arsenal’s sights who reportedly planned to convert him into a left-back.
The Ten Hag connection ultimately played a part in Martinez choosing United. Upon missing out, the Gunners moved for Oleksandr Zinchenko.
Martinez has slotted into the Man Utd starting eleven seamlessly since arriving. That should not come as a surprise given he’s playing under the same manager who worked wonders on his game at Ajax.
He’s forming a promising partnership with Raphael Varane at the heart of defence and his tenacity and ball-playing abilities mesh well with Ten Hag’s demands.
Regardless, one stick pundits and fans of opposition clubs continue to beat Martinez with is his height.
Standing at just 5ft 9in tall, Martinez is far below the average height of most centre-halves.
However, he does boast an incredible successful aerial duels percentage and according to former United treble winner, Jaap Stam, focusing on Martinez’s height is missing the bigger picture.
Stam – who won three successive titles at Old Trafford between 1999-2001 – labelled the criticism an “easy one”.
He also outlined why Ten Hag is ignoring the traditional English viewpoint that centre-backs must be tall and commanding in the air.
Lisandro Martinez height debate is short-sighted – Stam
“That was an easy one,” Stam told the Manchester Evening News. “The day when he signed for United, I had already said they will talk about his height.
“Over here [in England], everyone thinks as a centre-back you need to be big and tall, otherwise you won’t make it.
“The thing is, you need to look at the big picture of how the manager wants to play because that’s the most important thing.
“He wants to play dominating football, meaning you need to have players at the back who are comfortable on the ball.
“Of course, sometimes he’s going to get surprised, but that’s what also happens with big players – they make mistakes as well.
“Martinez shows his quality on the ball, he shows his quality when defending and his communication around him is good.
“He just needs to keep going.”
Martinez signing might not have happened
Ten Hag always planned to deploy Martinez at centre-half if signed. However, he was not the only central; defender the Dutchman looked at.
Villarreal’s Pau Torres and Ajax’s Jurrien Timber were both monitored prior to Martinez. Timber was warded off moving to Old Trafford by Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal.
According to Le10Sport, United also explored the idea of signign PSG’s Presnel Kimpembe.
Chelsea too were interested in the France international, but PSG were in no mood to sell.
On the contrary, the 27-year-old now looks in line to extend his stay in Paris.
His current deal expires in 2024. However, an extension that would commit his long-term future to the club could come in the next few weeks.