New Manchester United signing Lisandro Martinez has says he pays no attention to the critics after Jamie Carragher labelled the defender too small to play at centre-back in the Premier League.
Martinez was a £56m signing from Ajax in July. The Argentina defender penned a contract until June 2027, with the option to extend for a further year. And he has made an instant impact at Old Trafford.
Erik ten Hag has preferred Martinez at the heart of his defence with Raphael Varane, leaving Harry Maguire on the bench.
Martinez at 5ft 9in is on the small side for a central defender, but he played there for Argentina over the weekend. And Ten Hag has been more than happy with the 24-year-old since subbing him at half-time in his second game at Brentford.
Martinez was replaced by Varane at the interval in the 4-0 defeat at Brentford in August. England forward Ivan Toney used his height advantage against Martinez and Ten Hag made a tactical switch at the interval.
And after that game Jamie Carragher was very vocal about whether Martinez was tall enough to be successful in the Premier League.
Rio Ferdinand also questioned whether the new man would be physically able to play in the Premier League.
“Now, we should never judge managers or players too early. But I’m convinced this can’t work because the size of him playing in a back four,” Carragher said on The Overlap on 6 September.
“Maybe he could go left-back. Maybe he could play in a back three, but in a back four, he cannot play there in the Premier League.
“His passing is very good, he looks aggressive. He looks like a leader.
“He’s not a bad player, but to play at that level of football at 5ft 9in…I wouldn’t want to play alongside someone who was 5ft 9in as a centre back.”
Martinez though, who has since helped United to four straight victories, has brushed off the criticism.
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“To be honest, it’s a dream come true to be playing at such a big club as Manchester United, especially playing in the Premier League, which I think is one of the best leagues in the world,” he told TyC Sports, via The Metro. “It’s nice to catch the rhythm of the Premier League, so I’m very happy.
“I don’t pay attention [to criticism]. I believe in myself, I trust myself.
“And I always work hard every day. That’s what’s going to give you results at the end.”
It’s worth noting that while Brentford managed to expose Martinez’s lack of height. No other team has managed to do so since. Martinez has been superb in the wins over Liverpool and Arsenal particularly.
But none of those teams, as well as Southampton and Leicester play with a towering No 9 like Toney.
Whether or not Martinez will get the gig against Tottenham striker Harry Kane next month will be interesting to see. Ten Hag may well opt to bring Maguire back into the side against a physical striker like Kane.