Lisandro Martinez has had an incredible 2022 both on and off the pitch.
Martinez, 24, established himself as Erik ten Hag’s most important player at the back in Amsterdam. In early May, he was chosen as the winner of the Rinus Michels Award by Ajax supporters after playing an important role in their league title win.
Shortly after ending a solid season in the Netherlands, he followed Ten Hag to England in the summer and took no time in winning over the Old Trafford crowd. The tenacious 5’10” centre-back is ending the year by lifting the all-important World Cup trophy. He made five World Cup appearances, including two starts – one of which came against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.
From wrestling with forwards to win duels to producing game-saving tackles, Martinez doesn’t shy away from taking the initiative to achieve desired results. And he showed the same passion in ensuring a move to United before the start of the season.
Ten Hag has revealed that the World Cup winner pushed to join him at United after deciding to leave Ajax.
‘Whether I found it difficult to get Martínez away from Ajax? I had such a good time there, how we experienced the process together. From scratch we brought Ajax back to the European top. That project has been so dear to me,’ Ten Hag told Voetbal International (via the Daily Mail).
‘But Martínez himself wanted to leave Ajax anyway. If we hadn’t taken him, he would have gone to Arsenal.
‘They wanted him anyway, he was top priority there. Licha called me at one point: “Trainer, listen, I’m leaving Ajax anyway. I can sign with Arsenal, but if you want me, I’m going to Manchester United.”
‘Then I thought: I shouldn’t shoot myself and United in the foot either. He really hadn’t stayed in Amsterdam, that was out of the question. Then we struck and it all worked out.’
Martinez has been a mainstay in Ten Hag’s system, as such it’ll be interesting to see how the Dutch coach manages United’s defence in his absence in the next few games.