Erik ten Hag has spoken about the elephant in the room regarding Lisandro Martinez, while a reporter has explained why the move hasn’t yet been announced.
The 24-year-old is poised to become Manchester United’s third signing of the summer. Frenkie de Jong and Antony remain in contention to become numbers four and five, though Ten Hag recently suggested there is a contingency plan in place if De Jong isn’t signed.
Regardless, Martinez will be the next through the front door after United agreed a deal potentially worth £57m with Ajax.
Martinez operated primarily at centre-back in Amsterdam, though is also capable of being deployed at left-back or in central midfield when required.
He has a reputation as a tough tackling and no nonsense defender. However, he also boasts a superb passing range and is comfortable on the ball in tight areas.
However, the most talked about aspect of Martinez’s game – at least among rival fanbases – is the player’s height.
Martinez stands at 5ft 9in tall, a height that is admittedly short by conventional standards for a centre-half.
However, speaking to the Athletic, Ten Hag was keen to stress he is comfortable with deploying the Argentine in his favoured position at Old Trafford.
In doing so, he also suggested he has been brought in to strengthen the eleven, not just the squad, thus indicating Martinez could become the regular starter at left centre-back.
Lisandro Martinez height issue overblown
“We have good players there but I think we need a squad that is also good and deep,” said Ten Hag/
“I analysed and United last year were quite vulnerable over the left part of the defence. [Lisandro Martinez] is left-footed and that is an advantage in possession but also in defending.
“He also brings a South American spirit, a controlled aggressiveness. I think it will fit really good to Manchester United and our way of playing.
“He’s not the tallest but he is quite good in the air. I feel comfortable with that. Of course, you need the right balance. He has good timing, that’s one of his capabilities. We bring him in to not strengthen the squad, but the team.”
Ten Hag’s insistence Martinez is good in the air is backed up by the data.
Of every player to contest a minimum of 100 aerial duels in the Eredivisie last season, Martinez boasted the highest success rate (70.2%).
In a separate interview with Sky Sports, Ten Hag added: “Martinez is a different type.
“He’s a warrior, he brings aggressiveness, but he can also play football and has a good left foot. That is also what you need in the balance of the team, players who can create and also players who can defend.”
Transfer hold-up explained
The potential price of £57m has raised eyebrows. However, Sky Sports reporter, Dharmesh Sheth, explained why that fee could yet turn out to be great value. He also explained what is holding up official confirmation of the move.
“It’s probably closer now to what we expected the fee to be. The total fee is around £57m including add ons. That breaks down as £48.5m up front plus £8.5m in performance-related add ons.
“I always hear these add ons and hear people asking, ‘how much are teams spending?’
“But if Man Utd ended up spending £57m on Lisandro Martinez, that will mean he’s done an amazing job at United and the club will likely have been very successful while Martinez was there.
“The deal is all but done, he is just fulfilling visa requirements. With regard to the player himself, a lot has been made about his height. He’s 5ft 9in but he is very versatile.
“He can play on the left side of defence, as well as at centre-back. He can play as a holding midfielder as well. What’s more, he’s played under Erik ten Hag.”