Jaap Stam has revealed he believes Lisandro Martinez could be used in a defensive midfield role under Erik ten Hag if he signs for Manchester United.
Martinez is one of the Red Devils’ main transfer targets this summer as they look to improve under their new manager after a poor 2021/22 season.
Man United have had a €45m bid rejected by Ajax, who want the Premier League side to increase their cash offer to €50m with additional add-ons and bonus payments.
While Martinez played exclusively in central defense last season as Ajax won the Eredivisie title, Stam claimed he could be used in a different position at Old Trafford.
“You can see that Ten Hag’s approach is clearly to dominate games and control the opposition’s half,” Stam said. “When you play with a lot of space at the back and you need players who are reasonably quick and not afraid to cover. Tyrell Malacia has it and Martinez sure does.
“The fact that Ten Hag wants to reunite with Martinez, the Copa America winner, has to do with his football qualities. Martinez is very skilled and creative. The more such players he has, the more Ten Hag can keep the ball, and the less he will face counter-attacks.
“Communication is also important for that, especially in the strongest league in the world, and who he might be paired with in the core of the defence. But because Martinez is comfortable on the ball, he can also play in front of the defense. And I don’t rule out that The Hag will use him there.”
Martinez is well known for his aggressive defending and ease with the ball at his feet, with Stam revealing he has become a fan of the Argentine and believes he can succeed at United.
“In the past, defenders in England couldn’t be big enough,” Stam added. “Two meters height was good and the ability to throw the ball away. Now most clubs and managers want to play football from the back. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to defend yourself there. You still have to defend well and Martinez does that.
“There are a lot of fast strikers who are ruthless on the counter. So the important thing is for the defender to be smart and clever. He has to read the play quickly where the balls are coming from and push or push a little before the ball is there. Then you don’t have to get into fights. Martinez also developed it.
“I became his fan. I think he’s a fantastic guy with a good temperament and a winning mentality. For managers, they are nice players to work with.”