Incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has added Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez to his transfer wish list and feels he would be an ‘ideal’ signing for his system, according to reports.
The Dutch coach terminated his contract with the Eredivisie champions early, opting against going on their post-season tour in order to get a head start on his work at Old Trafford.
Ten Hag will liaise heavily with United’s existing recruitment team to plan their summer business and a new centre-back is firmly on his agenda after the side struggled defensively this season.
United had been linked with a move for Ajax youngster Jurrien Timber, who Ten Hag rates highly, but now The Telegraph claim he is even more keen to sign Martinez.
The versatile Argentine, who is also capable of playing in midfield, has been a cornerstone of Ajax’s defence under Ten Hag and would be a massive help in replicating his manager’s style and philosophy in Manchester.
Martinez has excelled at the one-v-one defensive tactics his coach favours while also being very strong at playing the ball out from the back, earning the club’s Player of the Year award.
Ten Hag feels he has been one of the ‘keys’ to his success at Ajax and is keen on an immediate reunion at Old Trafford.
The Dutchman is also a big fan of Timber, who was named Ajax’s Talent of the Year, but the 20-year-old has a host of admirers – most of whom can offer Champions League football, unlike United – with Ten Hag saying recently that ‘all the top clubs in Europe have Timber in their sights’.
United would have a freer run at Martinez, though his contract with Ajax – which does not expire for another three seasons – means he would cost at least €30million (£25m).
Martinez has the speed and tenacity Ten Hag wants in a centre-back and also feels like a better fit for the physicality of Premier League football – a question mark which had been raised about the pursuit of the smaller Timber.
In addition to a new centre-back, Ten Hag is also looking to bring in a centre-forward, right winger, right-back and two central midfielders – one more defence-orientated and the other more attack-minded.