Graeme Souness admits he expected Man Utd star to get 'exposed' this season

Graeme Souness admits he ‘has to hold his hands up’ after expecting Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez to get ‘exposed’ in the Premier League.

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Concerns were raised over Martinez’s height prior to his £57m move from Ajax last summer, but the 25-year-old quickly developed into one of the most important members of Erik ten Hag’s squad.

Forming an impressive centre-back partnership with Raphael Varane, Martinez has helped Manchester United emerge as surprise Premier League title contenders and win the EFL Cup – the club’s first trophy since 2017.

Souness admits he feared for Martinez when he first arrived at Old Trafford but says his ‘real football brain’ compensates for his ‘size and relative lack of pace’.

As well as impressing for Manchester United, Martinez helped Argentina win the World Cup in Qatar at the end of 2022.

‘I think Lisandro Martinez is one of those players who, if you’re playing against him, would annoy the life out of you,’ Souness told the Daily Mail. ‘He’s a feisty so-and-so isn’t he?

‘The phrase “argue in an empty house” comes to mind! He’d have an argument with himself, looking in the mirror! But team-mates react to that.

‘I thought he would be exposed when he arrived at United, because of his size and relative lack of pace. I have to hold my hands up, there. But he obviously has a real football brain and that “lead from the front” mentality.

‘You can see it in him. Everyone on the pitch, he wants to have an argument with. I love to see that.

‘Casemiro’s got a bit of it in him, too. They’re the ones who can carry the flag. And then, behind them, you’ve got others suddenly ready to stand up and be counted.

‘I like the way Erik ten Hag has reinstated discipline. These are the kinds of qualities I always remember when we went up against Manchester United.’

Given Martinez’s United career to date, it would not be a surprise if he relished the club’s trip to Premier League rivals Liverpool on Sunday.

While United are looking to continue their momentum under Ten Hag and keep the pressure on Arsenal and Manchester City, Liverpool will look to boost their top-four hopes on the back of three wins from four league games.

Looking ahead to the Anfield clash, Souness said: ‘Liverpool are ten points behind United but still have 45 points to play for and I still think they’re capable of finishing in the top four.

‘United’s supporters in the last decade have been fantastic for a team who have not performed for them and it will be exactly the same for the Liverpool supporters, now. 

‘This is the biggest game in British football and they will make the atmosphere red hot for United. As always, it’s going to be a fascinating a prospect.’

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