Manchester United have agreed a deal worth up to £57m for Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez, who is set to sign a five-year contract at Old Trafford.
United will pay a guaranteed €57m (£48.5m) for the Argentina international defender, with an additional €10m (£8.5m) in add-ons agreed between the two clubs. The move will see Martinez link up again with former Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag, who signed him for the club in 2019, at Old Trafford.
The deal is still subject to both medical and visa requirements, with completion expected in the coming days, before he puts pen to paper on a five-year contract in Manchester, with the option of a further 12 months, which would take him beyond his 30th birthday.
On Friday evening Martinez posted a picture on his Instagram account of him and his agent on a plane with the caption “heading to Manchester”.
Arsenal were also interested in the Argentina international but conceded defeat in their pursuit. While the Gunners’ playing style, along with the prospect of playing for Mikel Arteta, appealed to Martinez, he has chosen to move to Old Trafford.
Around €2m (£1.7m) of Martinez’s fee will be split between his old clubs, Newell’s Old Boys and Defensa y Justicia, both based in Argentina, as part of the standard solidarity payments involved in international transfers.
Why do Man Utd want Martinez?
Sky Sports News senior reporter Melissa Reddy:
“United have needed a left-sided centre-back and the manager wants somebody who’s quite comfortable in possession.
“Under Ten Hag, United are going to have quite a proactive approach, build play from the back and he wants to have a defender who is going to be an indirect threat at set pieces, confident and authoritative in the area.
“He knows Martinez quite well and feels that he fits the bill. He’s a defender comfortable defending in large spaces when the team pushes up.
“He is going to be okay to cover ground on his own but also he can bring the ball out and form parts of attacks which is what Ten Hag wants. He feels this will be money well spent for United.”
Martinez offers brains, brawn and versatility
Sky Sports’ features writer Nick Wright:
“Last season, Martinez averaged more passes per 90 minutes than any other Eredivisie player, while only two players directed more passes forward per 90 minutes.
“Those numbers underline Martinez’s ability to play through opposition lines but he is similarly adept at switching the play and picking out team-mates over longer distances. At Ajax last season, no player averaged more successful long passes per 90 minutes.
“Voted Ajax’s player of the year for his role in their Eredivisie title triumph last season, Martinez stands at just 5ft 9ins, making him small for a centre-back.
“Last season at Ajax, he made more headed clearances (29) than any other player and won 79 of his 112 aerial duels, giving him a success rate of 71 per cent and putting him second only to Harry Maguire among Manchester United and Arsenal’s current centre-backs.
“Martinez can expect to face more exacting opponents in the Premier League, of course, but he is also helped by a sound reading of the game. He is known for anticipating strikers’ runs and positioning himself smartly to make tackles and interceptions.
“Those qualities, coupled with his versatility and technical prowess, make him all the more alluring to Premier League suitors.”