Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Souness rips into in-form Man Utd ace for trait he feels will see him undone

Lisandro Martinez, Jadon Sancho, Manchester United, September 2022

Graeme Souness has ripped into Lisandro Martinez for one trait he thinks will be his undoing at some point down the line.

Martinez joined Manchester United at a time when their defence was under fire. Indeed, the Red Devils conceded 57 goals in 38 Premier League games last season.

The likes of Harry Maguire particularly took some hits in the press. As such, Erik ten Hag likely knew that he needed to strengthen at the back.

Martinez was one of two defenders that were brought to Old Trafford by the Dutch coach over the summer, alongside Tyrell Malacia.

Martinez was the more expensive of the pair, costing United around £51million to prise him away from Ajax. After signing for a fee in that region, he would have had lot of critics should he have had a poor impact.

However, he has been one of the shining lights in the Red Devils side so far. The Argentinian is yet to miss a game, and has been part of a defence that has kept eight clean sheets in all competitions.

Five of those have come in the Premier League – only three less than they managed for the whole of last season in the league.

Indeed, Martinez – having played in each game – seems to have influenced the side well. Former United defender Rio Ferdinand has hailed the centre-back’s partnership with Raphael Varane.

Martinez height a problem, thinks Souness

Martinez has also drawn praise from former Liverpool man Souness. While the pundit is a fan of the Argentine, he believes one trait will see him undone.

“We’ve played 12 games. There’s a lot to like about him, I like his aggression. The first thing he did when they played Liverpool at Old Trafford, he’s gone right through Mohamed Salah,” Souness said on talkSPORT.

“Salah for the rest of the game was looking for him. I like that. That’s professional sport, he did his job very early on Mo Salah and for the rest of the game looking over his shoulder.

“I just feel when you are that size you will get caught. You will get pinned in the box.

“We are talking about the Premier League. He will [get found out]. At 5ft 9 and he’s playing against guys who are 6ft 2 then he will get pinned occasionally.”

Indeed, Martinez is only 5ft9in, which is shorter than most centre-backs. However, to this point in a United shirt, it has not been obvious that his aerial game is a weakness.

Souness highlights two more traits

As well as the fact Martinez is not a big defender, Souness highlighted two more traits that he feels will lead to his undoing.

“I don’t think he’s terribly quick, I don’t think he’s terribly good on the ball, but he makes other people play and has real aggression, which Argentinians tend to have,” he added.

“He will get out sprinted occasionally and he will get caught. That’s my take on it.

“I can’t tell you a centre back in English football, in my time of the game, that has been successful being that size.”

It seems a strange time for Souness to be slamming Martinez. The Argentinian gained his second-best match rating of the season in United’s recent 1-0 victory over West Ham, as per WhoScored.

Martinez has shown that he is a very competent defender during his time in England so far. He does not need to be particularly quick or good on the ball if he is able to make up for it with other aspects of his game.