Wayne Rooney reckons Man Utd got it right after seeing an Erik ten Hag signing master two traits, and picked his winner for the upcoming World Cup.
For the longest time, Manchester United’s summer window appeared to be heading towards disaster. They did wrap up early deals for Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen, though Arsenal threatened to scupper their Lisandro Martinez plans and Frenkie de Jong would not budge.
Ultimately, United beat the Gunners to Martinez and abandoned their De Jong pursuit in favour of Casemiro. A late move for Ajax’s Antony rounded out a window that saw over £200m spent.
All of the summer recruits signings – aside from loanee Martin Dubravka – have made instant impacts, especially Martinez.
The tough tackling and no-nonsense Argentine made a mockery of criticism regarding his height to establish himself as the club’s undisputed No 1 centre-half.
He displaced club captain Harry Maguire in the process and has already struck up a promising partnership with Raphael Varane.
Martinez is a favourite among the Old Trafford faithful for his passion and aggression, though he’s clearly a player who knows the boundaries and how far he can push them.
One might expect a player of his type to rack up the bookings and the odd red card. On the contrary, his yellow card total in the league currently stands at just three after 14 matches.
Now, writing for the Times, Man Utd legend, Wayne Rooney has hailed Martinez for his aggression as well as composure.
Those two traits go hand in hand and without one, Martinez’s wouldn’t be nearly the same player he’s proving to be.
Man Utd star can marshal Argentina to World Cup glory
“I really like Lisandro Martínez,” he wrote in The Times. “Watching him for Manchester United recently, he is really composed and aggressive.
“He is perfect for international football and will be a big player for [Argentina].”
Martinez will start for Argentina in Qatar and Rooney believes Lionel Scaloni’s team are favourites to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy.
Argentina enter the competition on the back of a three-and-a-half year unbeaten streak. The 2021 Copa America was lifted during that span, with their last loss coming at the hands of Brazil on July 3, 2019.
Lionel Messi will hope to break his World Cup duck in Qatar and Rooney is tipping him to do just that.
Explaining why, the DC United head coach said: “For me, Argentina are the favourites.
“Unlike in 2018, they have plenty of good, solid players around Lionel Messi such as Lautaro Martínez, Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul and of course Angel Di Maria.
“Winning the Copa America last year will have given them confidence and has taken a bit of pressure off them. The climate will suit them too.
“The only thing they are missing is a No.9, that focal point in attack, but I think they will be really dangerous.”
Rooney also believes Germany will be a handful, not least because of Chelsea’s Kai Havertz who he’s tipping to shine.
Chelsea enigma to take Qatar by storm?
Havertz remains something of an enigma at club level with varying Chelsea managers seemingly undecided on what is his best position.
Havertz didn’t even make the starting eleven in two of the Blues’ last four league matches in the run up to Qatar, though Rooney reckons he’ll shine on the grander stage.
“Do not write off Germany,” continued Rooney. “It was so interesting watching their Nations League game against England in September.
“We got back into the game and should have won it but in the first half Germany absolutely dominated. Joshua Kimmich and Ilkay Gundogan were unbelievable. I think Kai Havertz will have a good tournament.
“The control Germany have in games will be crucial. The tempo of games will not be as high as in the Premier League.
“This World Cup will be well-suited to teams, like Germany and Spain, that can keep possession.”
The World Cup officially begins on Sunday when host nation Qatar square off against Ecuador at 4pm UK time.