Manchester United and Arsenal have both reportedly met with the agent of Lisandro Martinez as talks to bring the Ajax defender to the Premier League intensify.
The Red Devils are hot on the trail of the Argentina centre-half, whom flourished under Erik ten Hag’s leadership at Ajax. Ten Hag wants to strengthen his United defence this summer and it seems Martinez is now emerging as his prime target.
However, landing the 24-year-old looks far from a simple task with Arsenal also targeting their sights on Martinez.
Undeterred, however, his agent has reportedly been in London this week looking to secure his transfer.
As per the Sunday Mirror, both clubs met with representatives of the defender to hold talks over a move.
And while no agreement is yet to be reached, the pair have found out what it will likely take to secure his services.
The price for the reigning Ajax player of the year looks steep, albeit not an impossible one for both clubs to reach.
Indeed, the report claims both clubs now believe Ajax will accept an offer in the region of £42m to secure a deal.
It’s claimed Ajax would prefer to keep him, especially in light of other player sales, so have therefore set the parameters fairly high.
Reports on Friday suggest it is Arsenal in the driving seat, however, to land Martinez. That’s after the player’s physical stature – he only stands 5ft 9in – may be putting United off.
Arsenal leading the race for Lisandro Martinez
And if reports are accurate, that could be for as much as £40m.
United, by contrast, are only reportedly willing to spend up to £30m on the player.
They are reportedly making the seven-times capped Argentina international their No 1 defensive target. With Jurrien Timber likely to stay at Ajax, Ten Hag is now instead looking at Martinez.
Pau Torres is another option, but he looks to be out of their price range.
Ten Hag wants a new midfielder too, with any deal for Frenkie de Jong likely to take up a large chunk of his budget.
However, their hopes of landing Martinez for around the £30m mark appear doomed with Arsenal ready to go far closer to Ajax’s asking price.
Ajax right to hold out for the best price
Manchester United, if they are truly keen to sign Martinez, are likely going to have to dig deeper to land their man.
Arsenal’s push to bring him in represents a genuine threat to their efforts. It’ll also likely mean Ajax will far more likely achieve their asking price.
From Ajax’s point of view, they need to make sure they are generating the most money from his sale. With Sebastien Haller (Borussia Dortmund), Ryan Gravenberch and Noussair Mazraoui (both already joining Bayern Munich), the Dutch side have already seen their top assets stripped this summer.
As such, they can very much play the long game with Lisandro Martinez and only sell if they feel the package is right for them.
United are obviously focusing the majority of their budget on signing De Jong. However, they can raise the additional funds by offloading several of their unwanted stars.
However, one player who will not be leaving is Cristiano Ronaldo. To that end, Sunday’s Transfer Gossip claims Ten Hag is furious over an alleged meeting between his agent Jorge Mendes and Chelsea’s new owner Todd Boehly.