Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd told how they shafted Ajax by club director, as two turning points in Lisandro Martinez transfer emerge

Erik ten Hag, Lisandro Martinez Ajax 2019

Ajax director Gerry Hamstra revealed the two key moments that set a Lisandro Martinez transfer in motion, and detailed what would’ve been the “ideal” scenario instead.

Martinez, 24, became the subject of a hotly-contested transfer battle between Manchester United and Arsenal. Both clubs believed the Argentine was willing to join them. Indeed, it was widely reported Martinez was dead set on moving to the Premier League.

However, the lure of reuniting with Erik ten Hag ultimately played a part in Martinez choosing United. What’s more, once an offer worth £49m potentially rising to £57m was bid, the writing was on the wall.

Martinez is not officially a Manchester United player yet. However, barring any last minutes hitches regarding the finer details including obtaining a UK visa, the move will cross the line in the coming days.

Now, speaking to Dutch outlet Algemeen Dagblad, Ajax director, Gerry Hamstra, has spoken out on the impending sale.

Hamstra claimed Martinez’s sale will prevent Ajax from taking the next step forward to once again becoming a powerhouse in Europe.

The Amsterdam club are famed for their ability to develop players, though continue to find it difficult to retain them for their prime years. Lisandro Martinez will follow that trend and joins the likes of Ryan Gravenberch and Noussair Mazraoui in leaving this summer.

Explaining why Ajax ultimately had no choice but to sell, Hamstra pointed to the high offer United tabled, along with a personal chat with the player.

‘You have to keep these kinds of players’

The Ajax chief said (via Sport Witness): “We really didn’t want to lose Martínez, but with such high transfer amounts everyone understands how it works. We all have our ambitions at Ajax.

“Then six starting players can’t suddenly leave either. Only this year we had to deal with a combination of circumstances. The one-on-one replacements cost more than the guys you get to grow a year behind someone.

“The ideal [scenario] would have been if we had someone standing behind Lisandro, and Lisandro had stayed another year.

“We had a conversation again after his vacation. In it, Lisandro clearly indicated that he still wanted to take the step. It became increasingly clear that a longer stay was no longer feasible, because we are simply not at the top of the food chain.

“And then you go on as we have our own ambitions and want to aim high again this season. While everyone said a few years ago after a draw at Benfica: ‘that’s a good result’, there is now disappointment.

“So, if you want to take that next step, you actually have to keep these kind of players.

“Lisandro has developed a lot with us for three years. He’s become champion three times and now felt this step was the chance of a lifetime. He indicated that. We also understood that.”

Lisandro Martinez move part of transfer food chain

While Hamstra is understandably displeased at losing yet another key asset, it is a situation that is unavoidable given the finances available to the Premier League sides.

Ajax have been well compensated by Man Utd in the move. They will now use the money to rebuild their next generation as they have done so capably in the past.

What’s more, it was not so long ago that the English clubs – Manchester United included – were vulnerable to raids on their best players from LaLiga.

Indeed, Real Madrid poached Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009, while Liverpool lost Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona. Even Chelsea weren’t immune when losing Eden Hazard to Real Madrid in 2019.

In the end, money will always talk in football.