Erik ten Hag oversaw something of a summer revolution at Manchester United upon arriving at the club.
However, it was a move for former Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez which appears to have been his shrewdest signing of the summer transfer window.
His performances in the Europa League have been particularly pleasing, with the 24-year-old taking 84.2 touches and making 2.6 tackles per match, while also displaying his physicality by winning 72% of his total duels.
Martinez is a forward-thinking defender, ranking in the 94th percentile for progressive passes per match (4.13) compared to positional peers in Europe’s big five leagues, and this ball-playing ability allows United to begin attacks from the defensive third of the pitch.
Having conceded 57 goals in the Premier League last season, the same as the number they scored, improving the defence was one of the Dutchman’s main objectives ahead of the new campaign. Despite heavy defeats to Brentford and Manchester City, United gradually appear to be getting to grips with the manager’s way of doing things.
Football writer Karan Tejwani lavished praise on Martinez last week, saying: “Lisandro Martínez is a great talent. Played against the league’s best teams and mostly done well this season. That he was written off because of his height before he even kicked a ball for Manchester United was silly. Ajax’s best last season, Man Utd’s best so far in this one.”
Indeed, the Argentine won Ajax’s Player of the Year award in 2021/22, and given his undoubted potential, a move to England seemed the next logical step for him to continue his development.
The £120k-per-week talent hasn’t let the added pressure of playing at Old Trafford affect him so far and Ten Hag looks to have hit the jackpot with the 24-year-old, who will surely become a regular in the United backline for the next few years if he continues his promising early form throughout his career in Manchester.