Patrick Kelechi


Daily Courier – A man in demand this summer, the race is well and truly on to sign gifted Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez.

Wanting to test himself in the Premier League after developing into a multifaceted, complete player working under the expert tutelage of now Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag at Ajax, it appears the Red Devils are set to beat Arsenal to his signature.

So versatile and capable of operating in central defence, central midfield or at left back, this certainly adds to his appeal, for this will give his new team’s manager plentiful options to use his talents how best they see fit.

Having excelled in central defence last season for the Dutch champions, the expectation is that no matter where he goes he’ll most likely be deployed in the heart of defence.

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Fearless, fiercely competitive and intelligent in his stopping work, forwards know they’re in for a battle when they face off with the tigerish Argentine international.

Reading the play coherently and scanning proficiently so he’s aware of where opponents, teammates and vacant spaces are, this provides him with an ideal platform for success.

Attentive and alert to threats, Martinez then understands if he needs to step out to break up attacks, track a runner in behind, provide covering support for a teammate, take on a blown marking assignment or communicate with a colleague to advise them of incoming danger.

Undertaking his marking duties diligently, it’s impressive how the 24-year-old reacts rapidly both to when his man drops deep with his back to goal, where he’ll look to get touchtight and make life as uncomfortable for them in the hope of forcing a turnover, and when they look to run in behind, where his sharp turn of speed and agility hold him good stead.

In addition, how well balanced he remains and how shrewdly he picks up the ball’s flight path and speed adds to his worth. As a result of his prowess in this area, he can clear danger from crosses into the box, be an asset in set-piece scenarios and help his team win second balls in midfield.

Martinez vs. Gabriel Defensive Comparison

Tenacious and authoritative in his duels, how he blends power and finesse is a joy to watch, with the fundamentally sound stopper making it look easy at times due to his sound positioning and swift processing of situations.

Contributing just as immensely going forward, the former Defensa y Justicia starlet’s polish in possession is another vital string to his bow.

To start with his passing, and his confidence, composure and vision to pinpoint his targets ensures he’s a major asset when building out from the back. Assessing his options thoroughly and waiting for the moment he sees a weakness in the opposition shape, Martinez’s progressive passing then comes to the fore.

Capable of striking penetrative ground passes into his midfielders and attackers to beat the press, launching raking diagonal switches of play, obliging runners in behind with through balls on the ground or in the air and combining intricately in close quarters, his range and accuracy shines through.

Brilliantly weighted through ball over the top after disguising his intentions with his eyes and body shape
Usually weighting his passes ideally so they can be controlled cleanly on the preferred foot of a teammate or latched onto by runners, getting these little extra details amplifies his quality.

It’s also worth mentioning how the man with a wand of a left foot disguising his intentions with his body posture and eyes before finding an option the opposition weren’t expecting.

Whether circulating the ball calmly, helping bypass the first line of pressure, dictating the tempo from deep or creating openings for colleagues in the final third, he has a pass for just about any occasion.

His assertive forward dribbles out from the back have been another crucial aspect of his armoury, allowing him to step comfortably into midfield, lure out pressers to then find a free man directly or via a third man combination and outfox opponents 1v1 if need be.

Resistant to pressure to remain unfazed, the stocky powerhouse can not only breeze by opponents by outmuscling them or using smart alterations in pace and direction, but also with slick feints, shimmies and twists to gain separation.

Being so crisp in his first touch and ball control, plus adjusting his receiving angles so he knows whether to protect the ball or if he can let it run and open up his body, this heightens what an impact Martinez makes in this regard.

Tying everything together with his movement and positioning, these are instrumental towards forming the conditions for progression as well, for he knows where to be located to give teammates passing options, provoke pressing actions and to form overloads.

Having learned from a genius in the art of build up and possession play in Ten Hag at Ajax, Martinez is unquestionably well schooled with the knowledge of how best to dismantle opponents using the aforementioned mechanics.

Stacking up excellently with Gabriel and leading him in a host of attacking numbers too, the Wyscout graphics underneath showcase his influence in terms of his key passing and ball carrying.

Although questions marks have been raised regarding his size and how he’ll fare adapting to the Premier League, the potential upsides outweigh any possible negatives, thus explaining why the Gunners and the Red Devils are so keen on acquiring him.

With a tough decision to make on where to go, the logical choice would probably be to join United to reunite with Ten Hag, who taught him so much and helped develop him into the elite operator he is today.

Factor in the familiarity with his defined playing style and philosophy, and this would unquestionably make for a smoother transition for the Argentine to life in England.

Fresh from winning Ajax’s player of the year and with much to consider, waiting to see where the two time Eredivisie winner chooses to begin the next chapter of his career will be fascinating.

Source: Sporting Life