Lisandro Martinez: Guy Utd And Arsenal Transfer Goal Has Shone For Ajax And Gives Brains, Brawn And Flexibility All Football

“At the beginning, I felt like going domestic and crying,” said Lisandro Martinez. It became August 2020 and, in an interview with La Nacion, the young Argentine changed into recalling his arrival at Ajax a year in advance.


“The first few weeks have been horrible,” Martinez delivered. Training periods, he stated, had been “absolutely extraordinary” from what he became aware of in Argentina. “Different depth. Different manage. Different passes. Different studying of the sport.”

Martinez, new to Europe and best 21 on the time, determined himself suffering to keep up. “I’m a participant who likes to have the ball, but after they played with one or quick touches, they killed me,” he stated. “It turned into extraordinary how off the tempo I was.”

It become exceptional, too, how quick he overcame the ones early struggles.

Martinez soon found his feet amongst his new group-associates – “I started out to experience correct after pre-season,” he said – and set about fulfilling the widespread capability Ajax had visible in him as a combative and technically talented centre-lower back with Defensa y Justicia in Argentina.

Within some months, a player nearly reduced to tears by using the step-up in exceptional at Ajax had end up called ‘the butcher’ through the club’s supporters. Aggressive in his protecting but measured in ownership, he become already a key figure for Erik ten Hag.

Three years on, Martinez now reveals himself at the centre of a tug of struggle between his vintage manager, who has taken over at Manchester United, and Mikel Arteta at Arsenal. The Premier League beckons.Versatility and studying Kimmich

Martinez completed his €7m flow from Defensa y Justicia to Ajax in the same summer season Matthijs de Ligt departed for Juventus.

The Argentine turned into visible as an extended-time period replacement for the membership’s former captain at centre-back however his achievement in Holland, and his splendor to United and Arsenal, is down to his versatility too. Martinez also can play at left-again or in valuable midfield.

Indeed, having commenced his first season at Ajax in De Ligt’s vintage function, one wherein he had performed the majority of his soccer as a young participant in Argentina, he quickly found himself entering into the midfield role vacated with the aid of Frenkie de Jong six months earlier.

“At the beginning of the season we had been seeking out a mind for primary midfield,” said Ten Hag at the time. “We knew Martinez had performed in critical midfield, but should he do it in Ajax’s device? We attempted him there and we noticed precise matters.”

It is a testomony to Martinez’s tactical intelligence that, in surprising surroundings, and without any knowledge of English, not to mention Dutch, he become capable of adapt to possibly the maximum traumatic function inside the Ajax group, dictating the play from the bottom of midfield and providing a bridge among defence and assault.

Martinez was helped via his innate technical capacity but his urge for food for development changed into further important. Martinez, studious by using nature, made a concerted effort to watch and examine from different players who had made the transition from defence to midfield.

“The membership constantly provide you with records, but you need to do extras yourself for a new position,” he delivered to La Nacion. “I watch football all of the time and I take a look at all players, in all positions, and take a look at how they pass. I love the information about gamers.”

One player he watched in particular closely became Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich, who started out as a right-returned before being before being moved into midfield with top notch fulfillment below Pep Guardiola.

“When he performs in midfield, I just like the calmness he has and the manner he reads the sport,” stated Martinez. “A participant needs to be sensible. He has to have confidence, of direction, however it’s a recreation of decisions and you are making choices along with your head.”

Martinez soon became known as an antique head on younger shoulders at Ajax and impressed over the course of that first season, starting all but one among their 37 video games before the Eredivisie campaign become curtailed through the pandemic in March 2020.Height no barrier in defence

The following season proved more difficult for Martinez, with Ten Hag to start with preferring to apply Ryan Gravenberch inside the deep-mendacity midfield position and Daley Blind as his left-sided centre-lower back.

But after a few months at the periphery, Martinez fought his manner lower back into the team, this time in critical defence, wherein he formed an powerful partnership with academy graduate Jurrien Timber.

The pass returned from midfield to centre-back required Martinez to tackle added shielding responsibility however gambling deeper did not make him any less influential to Ajax’s construct-up play.

In reality, last season, he averaged more passes in keeping with ninety minutes than every other Eredivisie participant, even as most effective players directed greater passes ahead according to ninety mins.

Those numbers underline Martinez’s capability to play via competition strains however he’s similarly adept at switching the play and choosing out group-associates over longer distances. At Ajax final season, no participant averaged greater a hit lengthy passes in step with ninety mins.

Returning to centre-again additionally allowed Martinez, voted Ajax’s participant of the year for his position in their Eredivisie title triumph remaining season, to overcome any doubts approximately his physical suitability to the position.

Martinez stands at just 5ft 9ins, making him small for a centre-again, a relative lack of top which convinced his boyhood membership Newell’s Old Boys to allow him to sign up for opponents Defensa y Justicia as a young participant back in Argentina.

“His herbal position is valuable defence but due to the fact he isn’t tall, his coaches doubted him whilst he become trying to win his vicinity,” Nicolas Diez, one in all his coaches at Defensa y Justicia, said in an interview with El Pais quickly after his departure to Ajax.

“They had been a piece concerned approximately the difficulty of top,” recalled Martinez himself, “but it was something I by no means gave any importance.”

Instead, he resolved to make up for it in different methods.

Like his countryman Roberto Ayala, regarded as one of the first-rate centre-backs of his era despite his small stature, Martinez is deceptively sturdy inside the air and boasts a formidable leap.

Last season at Ajax, he made more headed clearances (29) than another player and gained seventy nine of his 112 aerial duels, giving him a achievement price of 71 per cent and setting him 2d handiest to Harry Maguire among Manchester United and Arsenal’s present day centre-backs.

Martinez can expect to face more exacting opponents in the Premier League, of course, however he is likewise helped with the aid of a legitimate studying of the sport. He is understood for anticipating strikers’ runs and positioning himself well to make tackles and interceptions.

Those features, coupled along with his versatility and technical prowess, have made him all the greater captivating to Premier League suitors. Whether he finally ends up at Old Trafford or the Emirates stays to be seen but Lisandro Martinez has already come an extended way.

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