Lisandro Martinez is set to become Erik ten Hag’s third major signing at Manchester United after a deal was agreed on Sunday.
The versatile 24-year-old will follow his former Ajax coach to Old Trafford in a deal that will reportedly cost United €57million (£48million), potentially rising to €67million (£56.5million) with add-ons.
Martinez emerged as a primary target for United after Ten Hag’s appointment was confirmed in April. Arsenal were among clubs rumoured to be rivalling United for the Argentina international, but seemingly Ten Hag’s presence played a telling role.
Martinez is primarily a centre-back but has also been known to fill in at left-back and in defensive midfield, with this well-roundedness and his ability on the ball making him an attractive option to many potential suitors.
He joined Ajax ahead of the 2019-20 campaign and won two Eredivisie titles during his time in Amsterdam, including last season.
Ajax were reportedly reluctant to sell Martinez, but United made a breakthrough and are now poised to complete the deal.
United said in a statement: “Manchester United is delighted to announce the club has reached agreement with Ajax for the transfer of Argentine international defender Lisandro Martinez, subject to medical, to player terms being finalised, and to UK visa requirements.”
An agreement has been reached for the transfer of Lisandro Martinez #MUFC || @LisandrMartinez
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 17, 2022
Martinez will join United in the midst of a rebuild, having recorded their worst Premier League points total (58) ever last season. They have already recruited left-back Tyrell Malacia from Feyenoord, and Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen on a free transfer after his Brentford exit.
The 2021-22 season was also the first league campaign in over 30 years that United did not end with a positive goal difference.
Ten Hag has been trusted with overseeing an improvement, and for many that means establishing a playing identity.
The Dutchman’s Ajax team were regarded as one of the most entertaining sides in Europe as they played an attacking brand of football based on possession retention, and Martinez – as a ball-playing centre-back – is seen as a potentially vital acquisition in Ten Hag’s quest to make United more comfortable on the ball.
As a left-footed player, Martinez’s arrival could be bad news for the much-maligned United captain, Harry Maguire, who predominantly features as the left of the two centre-backs.
The England international will retain the captaincy, as confirmed by Ten Hag, but the signing of Martinez increases the competition in Maguire’s area of defence.