Lisandro Martinez is a name on a lot of lips at the moment and we could see him in the Premier League very soon.
The centre-back has been linked with Manchester United and Arsenal as both clubs seek to sign one of Europe’s best young defenders.
The Gunners identified Martinez as their main defensive target and had their opening offer for the player rejected.
However, the 24-year-old has become important under new United manager Erik ten Hag and the Dutchman is keen to bring him to Old Trafford.
Martinez was born in Argentina and, like most kids his age, spent his time running around a soccer ball, hoping he would one day be able to emulate his idol and former Red Devils defender Gabriel Heinz.
His big breakthrough came at the age of eight, when he joined youth club Club Libertad and then progressed to Newell’s Old Boys, one of South America’s most famous clubs.
Old Boys was where a certain Lionel Messi rose to prominence, and it’s also where Marcelo Bielsa cut his teeth as a manager.
It was here that Martinez began to develop as a footballer and become the player we see today.
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He then moved to Defensa y Justicia, where he caught the attention of Ajax.
The Dutch giants signed Martinez in the summer of 2019 after reaching the Champions League semi-finals and selling Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus.
Former Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars was a huge fan: “Martinez is a left-footed player who can play in multiple positions at the back.
“He is a defender who likes to play forward football.”
And under Ten Hag’s guidance, he became a key cog in Ajax’s latest team.
The Argentina international has made over 100 appearances for the Dutch side and he’s played in four different positions, which suggests he’s quite versatile.
However, despite being only 5ft 9in tall, Martinez has come of age as a centre-back.
Now he may seem a bit short for the role, but last season he won more aerial duels per 90 minutes than Harry Maguire managed for United.
So while teams may think they can target Martinez in the air because of his size, they can’t.
Add to that his almost relentless determination to get the ball back, you have a pretty special player on your hands.
In fact, his determination on the pitch earned him the nickname “the Argentine butcher”.
Martinez opened up about his nickname in an interview last year: “In Argentina I never hear that nickname, but I know the fans here call me that. I like it and see it as a compliment. I never give up and I always go to fight full of struggles, that’s how I am.
And that fight and commitment was also massively appreciated by Ten Hag, who called the Argentine ‘excellent’.
But Martinez is also brilliant on the ball and can comfortably play at left-back or in a defensive midfield role due to his passing ability.
He averaged 81.8 assists per game in the Eredivisie with an 88.9% completion rate.
You can see exactly why the Red Devils want to add him to their side, but they’re going to have to act fast with the Gunners pushing hard for Martinez too.
It looks like this small but talented and strong-willed defender could be in the Premier League very soon.
And we think he would be a wonderful addition to the elite.
talkSPORT LIVE – Don’t miss Brazil and Parlor!
Alan Brazil and Ray Parlor wowed audiences across the country this year with their hilarious double act, live on stage.
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