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Lisandro Martinez: 10 Interesting Things About The Argentine “Butcher”

When we talk about the career of Lisandro Martinez, it’s a question of constant progress that stands out to everyone. Once asked to describe himself as a player, the Argentine said he really likes helping his teammates, and wants the best for everyone. “If we are all fit, I think we will have more chances to win, especially if we have 11 good players. Personally, I’m very aggressive and I love to win, but I’m also a good friend”, he stated when asked about his strategy for what he’ll bring to Manchester. 

Lisandro Martinez: 10 Fun Facts About The Man Utd Center You Should Know! 

1. At first, his career at Ajax was tough:

Trained at Newell’s Old Boys, he made his professional debut in 2017 before being loaned to Defensa y Justicia. Author of a good season, he was recruited definitively at the end of his loan. A season later, it was in the Netherlands that he signed, in the summer of 2019, recruited by Ajax from ten Hag for 7 million euros, a record for the Argentine club. The destiny of the Albiceleste player, international since 2019, then seems all mapped out. However, the beginnings under the Ajax jersey are complicated:

According to a statement given in Jan 2022, “In the first three weeks, I had a miserable time. It was totally different. Intensity, controls, passing… Another vision of the game… At first, I wanted to go home and cry. I felt bad. I’m a player who likes to have the ball, but when they got me into one or two quick touches, they killed me. It was amazing how late I was. 

So Martinez does what he does best: shut up, put his head down, and learn, over and over. Following his first season, which stopped due to a pandemic, number 21 definitely takes its marks and its titular stripes. Championship, cup, the one who will be nicknamed “the Butcher of Amsterdam” does it again the following season, establishing himself as one of the most prominent defenders in the championship and in Europe, to the point of attracting the envy of the greatest. His match against Dortmund particularly impressed, against a very wise Erling Haaland that evening, the fault of a remarkable work by the Argentinian. Soon, Erik ten Hag flies to the North of England and Lisandro Martinez does everything to join him, to the point of repelling the advances of Arsenal, yet very warm to welcome him. 

2. Man United debut:

He had his big debut in August 2022 in a defeat against Brighton but he stood out 2 weeks later in a 2-1 victory against Liverpool. Associated with Raphael Varane, he released an XXL performance.

Martinez, who signs until 2027 with an option for a further year, said it was an “honor” to join the Premier League club.

“I have worked very hard to achieve this moment, and now that I am here, I am going to try even harder,” the Argentine told the English club’s website. “I am lucky to have been part of successful teams in my career and that is why I want to continue at Manchester United.”

3. The most expensive Argentine defender in Man U history: 

The Red Devils’ offer reaches 57 million euros plus another 10 million in bonuses, making Martínez the most expensive Argentine defender in history. The club, led by Erik Ten Hag, seems to be the most interesting option for Martínez, due to his relationship with the strategist, whom he had precisely in the Netherlands since he arrived in 2019, and with whom he played 120 matches. Together they lifted four titles. 

With the confirmation of his transfer, he thus becomes the most expensive Argentine defender of all time. The previous record belonged to Cristian “Cuti” Romero, who when he was transferred from the Italian Atalanta to the English Tottenham, the Spurs paid 50M plus 5M in other bonuses.

Martínez will also be the 8th Argentine player to wear Mancunian colors after Juan Sebastián Verón, Gabriel Heinze, Carlos Tévez, Angel Di Maria, Marcos Rojo, Sergio Romero and most recently Alejandro Garnacho.

4. Lisandro Martinez’s height is extreme, but an asset:

With a height of 1.80 meters, Lisandro Martínez is perhaps not the archetype of the central defender. His height, in fact, is one of the first things you notice when he’s planted in the middle of the defense. Sometimes he’s even just a little bit taller than the wingers he’s next to. 

Even so, his technical quality, reading of the game, and his left-handedness convinced the Manchester United manager, Erik ten Hag, to pay an initial transfer of 54 million euros – which could be more than 67 million with variables – so that the Argentinian will land at Old Trafford. “He’s a warrior and I think the fans are going to admire him,” said the Man United manager Ten Hag, who had him under his command at Ajax. “He has a combative spirit, he is going to bring us aggressiveness in our game. I think we needed that. He is also skilled, he knows how to play with the ball and he is left-footed”.

5. Lisandro Martinez’s technical game:

Martínez is a very versatile left-footed defender, who has played most of his career as a center-back. However, he accumulates experience in other positions. In his first season at Ajax he was occasionally used as a defensive midfielder. In that position, he carried out surveillance on the rivals who positioned themselves between the lines with the intention of pressing if the ball reached that area. He was also covering a deep shot by the opponent.

Throughout these actions he showed his speed and ability to react, virtues also exhibited as a left back, a position in which he played in some phases of his second season at Ajax. During 2021/22, during his third and final season at the Dutch club, Martínez played exclusively as a central defender in a team with a marked attacking character. As a result of this, the Argentine defended with a lot of space behind him.A context that is familiar to him from his beginnings in Defensa y Justicia which means Defense and Justice; is the Argentine club where he played prior to his move to Europe.

In that position as a center back, and despite his short stature compared to other referees in his position, he shows a very good performance. He makes up for his height with his aggressiveness in duels. There he competes with his rivals with his body, especially if the rival has his back to the goal. 

6. Martinez is faster than most central defenders:  

By virtue of Lisandro Martínez’s role in central defense, he adds a good defensive body orientation and a particularly fast change of pace. This helps you get to the mark of forwards who move away from center backs to look for the ball diagonally.

He also knows how to calculate the times in his favor to correctly recognize when to leave the defensive line to make a tackle (below). He perfectly understands when to shorten distances forward and keep the block compact, as well as when to retract and narrow spaces backwards. His ability to react also helps him when he loses aerial duels, since he can follow his mark after that initial push.

Naturally, rival teams look to attack him through the air. Actions in which, if his mark does not cleanly win the first contact, Martínez will fight fiercely for the second ball. He is also highly effective when he reacts to second balls after a teammate’s aerial duel. When there are other players around him with greater physical ability to win balls from above, the Argentine’s ability to win second balls becomes valuable.

7. Lisandro Martínez joined the first line of midfielders through offense:

Martínez is a player who stands out in his relationship with the ball, being a specialist in the role of central initiator of the game. Thus, he constantly breaks lines with his passes and is able to make them facilitate the construction of the game on the rival defense. On top of that, he is able to penetrate with diagonal passes from above, looking for space behind. Sometimes, he takes the ball himself to break rival lines while driving or dribbling past an opponent if the situation demands it.

He also has the ability to jump past the opposing midfield with his passes, as well as reach the inside left aisle in front of the opposing defense to find teammates between those lines. He strikes with minimal contact with the ball, which allows him to create enough distance to surprise midfield, but also with enough control that the ball has little flight and falls quickly.

When planted higher – in front of a low block, for example – this technique is useful for penetrating around the opponent’s defense. Passes like that can go over the shoulder of a forward running to the opponent’s back, leaving him with a single direct pass scoring option. 

Martínez’s ability to deploy that ball in such a small space helps those runs behind his teammates to be more direct, facilitating the attacker’s work.

8. Lisandro Martinez’s prowess for passing:

The Argentine can also break lines through his vertical passes at ground level, where he usually looks for the inside left corridor. From the left side of central defense, he can launch a pass that connects to the left winger, or he can slide vertical passes between the lines to find a running midfielder, as well as an inside between the lines or the opposite winger.

He still doesn’t show a consistent ability to break the lines with his dribbles, but he can move the ball from side to side and can play back to find space in the opposing midfield. That is another virtue that accompanies him in his game with the ball.

9. Lisandro Martinez’s qualities as a central defender:

Throughout 2021/22, Lisandro Martínez played as a left central defender in Ten Hag’s 4-3-3 at Ajax. He usually teamed up with Jurriën Timber, although he also occasionally teamed up with Perr Schuurs. The aggressive style of the Argentine helped Ajax to close spaces with high pressure. A key move was that of the Argentine international jumping into the midfield line to generate numerical advantages.

When a rival generated play on the flanks and Ajax went on to defend in mid-block, Lisandro Martínez still dared to jump and play for the ball on the flanks, usually in the inner left corridor. Timber or Schuurs then covered their space and the left back – be it Daley Blind or Nicolás Tagliafico – could go out with Martínez in coverage. Up front, left winger Dusan Tadic was coming back to cover the passing lane and the far inside, in the meantime, he could stay back (low) and be alert in case Martinez got too far out of his position to, in that case, cover that zone of the central defense.

10. Lisandro Martínez’s parameters as a midfielder:

Lisandro Martínez’s ability to win balls back after pressing outside the defensive line was honed during his time as Ajax’s central midfielder in 2019/20. With the Dutch team pressing high, Martinez was free to press even higher up the field, trying to break the opponent’s game construction.

In that campaign, Ten Hag also used a double pivot on top of a 4-2-3-1, which meant that Lisandro Martínez had the license to press even higher, even at the same height as the attackers. Tadic was backing away from his center-forward position, with the wingers attacking toward the middle. However, instead of the left back pressing forward or around the winger, Martinez came out wide and generated intense post-loss pressure. 

The Argentine was exceptional in that role, helping to keep his team’s game close to the center circle and almost always in the rival half. His ability to help him with his aggressive double pivot pressure certainly helped him be a better defender. Although he does not have the main features of a modern center-back, especially because of his height, he is a player with the attributes to be successful in the Premier League.

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