Lisandro Martinez

Gaurav Mukherjee
6 min readJul 16, 2022

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“It gave me a bit of grace, but that’s what the fans think. It’s very crazy to be called ‘The Butcher’. I saw the sticker and it has a lot of blood on my face,” said Tagliafico to Ajax’ Ziggo channel.

Manchester United have agreed a fee with Ajax for the transfer of Lisandro Martinez, report The Athletic.

United chief executive Richard Arnold and football director John Murtough travelled to Amsterdam in order to get the deal agreed with Ajax chief executive Edwin van der sar.

Martinez has been subject of interest from Erik ten Hag’s side and the United manager has got his man.

Ajax

Lisandro Martinez’ convictions have allowed him to elevate himself above concerns of his size as he has spent the majority of his career moonlighting in a number of positions. He began his career as a left winger before moving to centre-back as he was also deployed at the base of Ajax’ midfield. His nicknames in Argentina were ‘La Temita’ which loosely translates to the ‘little problem’ as Ajax have now blessed him with the sobriquet of the ‘Little butcher’. He meshes intensity and technique as he controls Ajax’ build-up and attacking play from deep.

Marc Overmars struck gold with a few acquisitions from South America after the purchase of Davinson Sanchez preceded David Neres as the Brazilian was followed by Nicolas Tagliafico and then Martinez. Ajax have a well-coordinated scouting network that has consistently unearthed gems in Holland and Scandinavia but with Ajax investing larger sums in South and Central America, the club have seen a sharp growth. Ajax had to prepare for the losses of players like Lisandro Martinez, Ryan Gravenberch and Noussair Mazraoui as Overmars’ intelligent recruitment strategy and clever coaching from Erik ten Hag have done that.

Lisandro Martinez’s analysis shows us that he plays more with his mind than his feet. Standing at 5 feet 10 inches, the 24-year-old is not the most daunting defender, but his excellent reading of the game ensures he is not the easiest person to deal with. The Argentine is also adept at ball playing. Erik Ten Hag preferred him because he can move the ball forward with his exquisite short and long passing.

His vision ensures that he is rarely caught off guard. He also makes tackles only when necessary, choosing to stay on his feet and snuffing out the danger. Martinez is also a player who goes quietly about his job. Rather than going for a tackle, he waits to intercept the passing lanes to snuff out the danger.

His passing accuracy for the last three seasons has been over 88 per cent, which shows his absolute control of the ball. He can also create chances for his team, as is evident by his three assists, the third-best for a centre-back in the league.

“Álvarez and Martínez are the connection players between the defence and the attack. They must think and act quickly. Both must add something in the construction and the offensive. At the same time, as midfielders, they must also control the balance in case of loss of the ball, steal balls and play between spaces.” — Erik ten Hag

Martinez is not only a good reader of the game but can also make split-second decisions if the need arises. This playing style of Lisandro Martinez is accurately reflected in his stats.

Data and Stats

Lisandro Martinez’s analysis makes one thing clear. He is an elite passer. Fbref has ranked him among the top one per cent defenders on successful passes, progressive passes, assists, key passes, and passes into the final third.

This is an impressive stat, and with more teams requiring to build up from the back, ball-playing defenders are now worth their weight in gold.

Martinez is also a creative defender. The Argentine completed 1.38 Shot Creating Actions (SCA) per 90 minutes, among the top one per cent of defenders. The same holds for Goal Creating Actions (GCA), and dribblers tackled and dribbles contested. Martinez is also ranked as the tenth-best player in Expected Threats (xT). The xT metric measures how threatening a player is in different parts of the pitch. And despite being a defender, Martinez has better xT than his Ajax teammate Antony and Bruma and is shy of Ryan Gravenberch and Cody Gakpo.

Martinez is also quite efficient at what he does. According to Soccerment, the player has made 46 interceptions, the 34th best in the league. His tackle numbers are more average. However, Soccerment rated him as the second-best defender in the league behind Timber.

This is because Martinez snuffs out the danger before it even begins through his impeccable vision and reading of the game.

Martinez completed the sixth-most passes (1963) in the Eredivisie and has been reasonably accurate with it, which has attracted the interests of clubs all over Europe. In addition, he has also played in a system that encourages ball-playing defenders. Thus, he can seamlessly transition into any top side, which usually start their play from the back.

He also has the experience of playing in the Champions League. In fact, he was a part of a defence that allowed the third least goals in the group stage. So this has brought him tremendous experience that will be helpful for him in the future.

He has also seen success on the international stage with two trophies. Therefore, any club signing Martinez would get a good defender and a player who can also raise the game of his teammates as well.

Future

After three seasons at Ajax, Martinez will finally leave for Manchester United and team-up with his former manager Erik ten Hag. Manchester United are looking to make him their third signing of the summer. However, it wasn’t easy for the Red Devils as they faced competition from Arsenal. Mikel Arteta has strengthened this season by signing Fabio Vieira from Porto.

Manchester United have only been able to sign Tyler Malacia and Christian Eriklsen up until now. The situation has been so bad that Manchester United CEO Richard Arnold met a group of fans who planned to protest in a pub to assuage their concerns.

United conceded 57 goals in the Premier League and had a goal difference of zero. Harry Maguire was especially woeful and earned the ire of fans and pundits alike. If Manchester United want to become a top-four contender, then the signing of Martinez will help them massively.

Conclusion

The authority with which Lisandro Martinez plays makes it remarkable that he is only 24-years-old. The chiselled face, steely nerves under pressure, assurance in possession and defensive resolve ensures that his play is far beyond his years. Ajax used to have a growing Latin fraternity within the dressing room led by Andre Onana who used his experience at Ajax and proficiency in the Spanish language to communicate with his teammates and ensure they are properly positioned at all times. Martinez has already established himself as technical leader and will definitely make an impact under ten Hag this season.

thank you for reading!

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Gaurav Mukherjee

Sports Management student who has a passion for football and tactics.

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