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 boss to Old Trafford in a deal said to cost Manchester United €57m (£48m), with add-ons potentially rising to €67m (£56.5m).
Martinez emerged as United’s primary target after Ten Haga’s appointment was confirmed in April. Arsenal were among the clubs rumored to be vying with Manchester United for the Argentina international, but it seems the presence of the Ten Hag played a telling role.
Primarily a center-back, Martinez has also been known to start at left-back and in defensive midfield, his roundness and ability on the ball making him an attractive option for many potential suitors.
He joined Ajax ahead of the 2019-20 season and won two Eredivisie titles during his time in Amsterdam, including last season.
Ajax were reportedly reluctant to sell Martinez, but United have made a breakthrough and are now ready to complete the deal.
In a statement, United said: “Manchester United is delighted to announce that the club has reached an agreement with Ajax for the transfer of Argentina international defender Lisandro Martinez, subject to a medical, finalization of the player’s conditions and UK visa requirements.”
Martinez joins United in the midst of a rebuild, having recorded the Premier League’s worst points total (58) last season. They have already signed left-back Tyrell Malacia from Feyenoord and Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen on a free transfer following his departure from Brentford.
The 2021–22 season was also the first league campaign in over 30 years in which United did not finish with a positive goal difference.
That Hag has been tasked with overseeing the upgrade, and for many, that means creating a gaming identity.
The Dutchman’s Ajax side were considered one of the most entertaining teams in Europe as they played possession-based attacking football, and Martinez – as a ball-playing centre-back – is seen as a potentially important acquisition for the Ten Hag. trying to make United more comfortable on the ball.
Martinez’s arrival as a left-footed player could be bad news for much-maligned United captain Harry Maguire, who features predominantly as the left of two centre-backs.
The England international will retain the captaincy, as confirmed by The Hag, but the signing of Martinez increases the competition in Maguire’s defence.