Who is the Lisandro Martinez, linked to a £30m to Arsenal from Ajax?

Known as the ‘Butcher of Amsterdam’ Lisandro Martinez is no pushover despite his relatively small height – so, who is the versatile defender Arsenal hope to land for £30m from Ajax?

  • Arsenal are hoping to boost their centre-back options with Lisandro Martinez
  • Mikel Arteta’s side have already had a £25m bid for the Ajax star rejected
  • The Argentina international remains a transfer target for the Gunners
  • Sportsmail gives you the lowdown on the 24-year-old defensive star 

With a deal in place to sign Fabio Vieira, Arsenal are continuing their summer pursuit of stars in a bid to break into the Premier League top four next season.

Following key absentees at the back last term, Mikel Arteta has turned his attention to Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez with the Dutch giants having already dismissed a potential £25million bid.

But with only initial talks underway Arsenal are still likely to press ahead in pursuit of the versatile star with a fresh bid of £30m, so here is the lowdown on the in-demand defender.

Arsenal are looking to make an improved bid of £30m for Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez

At 24 years old, Martinez is a key part of an Ajax defence that claimed the Dutch league title last season and helped dominate their Champions League group by winning every game before their meek exit in the last-16 at the hands of Benfica.

He has seven Argentina caps over the last three years since joining the Dutch side despite standing at around 5ft 9in.

Not that his slightly below average height for a stereotypical defender hindered him last season. Martinez was part of an Ajax team that conceded just 19 goals in 34 games – not bad for a division which traditionally is attack driven.

The defender (left) helped Ajax concede only 19 goals in Dutch top flight last season

What do Arsenal value in him?

There are two key areas. The first is he would provide healthy and strong competition among Mikel Arteta’s centre-backs especially on the left side with Gabriel.

Another though is his versatility. Although predominately a central defender the Argentine can also plug gaps at full-back on either side.

This would have been extremely useful for the Gunners late last season when injuries to defensive stars – especially left-back Kieran Tierney – saw them left with limited options as their challenge for a Champions League place spectacularly went off the rails.

Martinez’s strong ability on the ball makes him ideal for Mikel Arteta’s (above) playing style

What is his style of play?

Don’t be fooled by his lack of height, Martinez is still able to put in a crunching challenge and show his physical strength. Aided by his strong ability to read a game, this tends to make him more precise rather than reckless in the tackle.

His alertness also reduces the need of him to make a challenge by being correctly positioned in a backline.

Martinez is ideal in Mikel Arteta’s progressive play system too, as he is confident to dribble the ball out of defence adding an extra layer to the midfield, with his passing ability also competent enough to move the ball upfield.

Martinez’s stats at Ajax were impressive last season across all competitions – from SofaScore

Does this help explain his nickname?

Certainly seems to correlate, with Martinez now being known as the ‘Butcher of Amsterdam’ since his move to the Dutch capital three years ago.’ 

Explaining the origin of his nickname, Martinez told NOS: ‘That will be because of my playing style. The way I go into duels. I never let a ball run and if I have to go over corpses, I do it.’

Shouldn’t every team be after him then? What’s holding him back?

Only the obvious – his lack of height. No amount of talent in the mind or on the ball can hold that back in the air. His 5ft 9in frame leaves him vulnerable to taller strikers when it comes to crosses.

That’s not to say he is useless aerially, his heading of the ball is actually of a decent standard but it is a concern.

His average pace is also unlikely to be considered a major strength and while he is not slow, it could leave the Gunners exposed if he is caught too high up the pitch when facing a counter attack.

Given Arteta will hope he can limit the damage from an injury crisis it is perhaps ironic that he also missed the last seven league games last season due to a muscle injury. Long term concerns or a one-off? We will eventually find out. 

Due to a committed approach to tackling, Martinez is known as the ‘Butcher of Amsterdam’

Sounds like he should be an Argentina regular though

Maybe in another era he would be. But while he is a consistent member of the national team, starting games can be a struggle for Martinez.

He is currently behind Tottenham star Cristian Romero as well as veteran Nicolas Otamendi in the pecking order.

Although a member of the squad that won the inaugural Finalissima after defeating Italy 3-0 earlier in June, he didn’t make it onto the pitch, with even fellow central defender German Pezzella preferred to come on for the final five minutes of the Wembley clash. 

However, he is currently behind Tottenham defender Cristian Romero at international level

Any other interested teams?

Manchester United have been linked with him and those cannot be totally dismissed given new manager Erik ten Hag relied heavily on him while at Ajax in the last three years.

However, Barcelona are also keeping tabs on the 24-year-old although they are unlikely to provide much competition to the Gunners given their current financial woes and have priorities elsewhere.

What’s been said?

New United manager Erik ten Hag is a big fan having managed him for the last three campaigns, saying: ‘I find Lisandro Martinez an excellent player and this is why I talk with him a lot.’

Given Manchester United’s defensive crisis, Arsenal’s ability to snatch the defender before Ten Hag can work out what to do with his dysfunctional United side this summer could be a big boost for the Emirates Stadium outfit. 

Manchester United manager and former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag rates Martinez highly

Share this article

Source: Read Full Article