Hi I’m Masa United.
On 15 July, an agreement was reached on the transfer of Ajax club CB Lisandro Martinez to United. After a fierce battle with Arsenal, they managed to win the trophy for a total transfer fee of €50m. Martinez played under Ten Hag for three seasons at Ajax. I decided to re-tag team with my mentor who made me grow. His desire to play in the Premier-League and his direct persuasion of Ten Hag paid off.
This time, we will analyze left-handed CB Lisandro Martinez. We will consider your overall style of play, your characteristics both defensively and offensively, and your role at United!
The following items are included.
(1) One of the best defenders in the league
Name: Lisandro Martínez
Date of Birth: January 18, 1998 (24 years old)
Team Career:Newells (2015~2018) → Defença (2018/6~2019/5 → Ajax (19-20~21-22) → United (22-23~)
Contract : 30 June 2027
Lisandro Martinez joined Ajax from Defença (Argentine First Division) in the 19-20 season as a replacement for De Ligt who moved to Juventus. In Argentina, he played mainly as a CB. In his season at Ajax, he was used mostly in Defensive Midfielder, but since the 20-21 season he has played almost every game as a CB. Ajax have not been allowed to win the league title in the 19-20 season when Martinez joined, but they finished in first place. The following 20-21, 21-22 wins also saw Martinez win a number of league titles, and Martinez went on to win a number of glory at Ajax.
Ajax have also conceded 23 goals in the 19-20 season (25 league games), 23 goals in the 20-21 season (34 in total) and just 19 goals in the 21-22 season. With the likes of van de Beek, Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Rigt and the likes of Ajax conceding 32 goals in the 18-19 season, his defensive stability since joining Martinez has been impressive. Of course, Martinez’s arrival isn’t the only factor, but it’s also one of the reasons he’s been rated as one of the best defenders in the league.
At Ajax last season, Martinez often played CB with Timber. In terms of defensive aggressiveness and stats such as tackles, Timber has excelled and has some of the best numbers in the league. In contrast to Timber, whose aggressive defense is the selling point, Martinez is not the type to stand out defensively. If timber is “rigid”, Martinez is “soft”. It is the relationship between “iron and curtain” that is said to be the ideal combination of CB. However, if you look closely at Martinez’s play, you can see that his defensive ability is also high. Let’s take a closer look at it in the next section.Embed from Getty Images
(2) Defensive ability
Martinez made 48 tackles in the 21-22 season. This is the third number for Ajax and the 60th in the league. He also threw 46 interceptions, second for Ajax. They finished 29th in the league. Ajax themselves have a high possession rate and short defensive time, but when you look at the league as a whole, neither is a notable number. Timber is the top tackle and interceptor at Ajax, but there is a big difference in the number of tackles (25) while the interceptions are only four innings. In addition, in terms of the ground duel winning rate, the two of them have almost the same number. Timber is 69.43% and Martinez is 68.18%. That’s more than Varane’s 66.67 per cent, United’s leader.
What we can see from these numbers is that Martinez’s defence is very efficient. And that’s the biggest feature of Martinez’s defence. In other words, he’s a great defender in reading and positioning. Martinez is rarely caught off guard. They also make tackles only when necessary, usually making moves that do not move around and are dangerous or that anticipate where the pass will come and fill it. Martinez is not an aggressive fighter, but he is intelligent and has excellent crisis detection skills. Martinez’s defence always seems effortless and simple, and that’s a testament to his defensive prowess.Embed from Getty Images
In addition, although he is said to be tough as a center back at 178cm, he boasts a winning percentage of 70.54% in Aerial Duels. This is the top in Ajax, with only Varane 73.68% and Maguire 72.82% winning this among United players. Martinez, who has a sharp reading, is highly capable of predicting where the ball will fall and positioning it ahead of his opponent. It has one of the best aerial winning percentages in the league, and despite the league-level differences, it doesn’t seem like much of a problem. In addition, there is no hesitation in hitting the body even in the duel phase, and as we saw in the numbers earlier, the winning rate is also high. Of course, like Ajax, they are able to defend in situations where the team’s possession is high, but I don’t think Martinez, who was taught by Ten Haag to play effectively as a CB, will not be able to do well in the Premier-League.
(3) Contribution to attacks
Where Martinez sets himself apart from other defenders is when it comes to ball play. His passing accuracy over the past three seasons has exceeded 88%, demonstrating his ability to handle the ball with his left foot. As you can see from the three assists last season, he can also create chances. Highly capable as a passer, FBref data ranks in the top 1% of defenders for successful passes, progressive pass counts, assists, key passes, and final third passes. I have. This is an impressive stat. With more teams needing to build up from the back, defenders who are good at ball play are much more important. Martinez has this trait in its entirety and is a big part of Ten Hag’s decision to make Martinez the starting point of the build-up.Embed from Getty Images
He also recorded a 1.38 Shots Creative Action (SCA) per 90-minute period, and his goal-creating action (GCA) and dribbling success rate were among the top 1% of defenders. It also ranks 10th in the league in Expected Threats. The threat expectation is a measure of how much a player poses a threat to an opponent in different parts of the pitch, and it is very interesting that Martinez, despite being a defender, has shown a better xT than his Ajax team-mates Antony the winger and the Bruma of PSV (now Fenerbahce).
Serving as a build-up contribution and attacking switcher, such as holding the ball on the final line and deploying long passes left and right as the starting point for passing, or dribbling up and putting in passes to wedges and backyards That’s a big feature of Martinez, but at Ajax, left-back Blind takes up a high position, and anchor Alvarez often falls between the CBs and assembles, at which point Martinez acts as a three-back left CB. There are also scenes in Ajax with a high back-line, occasionally penetrating into enemy territory and behaving like a bounty. It’s a sign of confidence in your ability to play the ball, and you can also feel confident that you can cover with reading and speed even if you eat up the counter. In this way, Martinez is one of the best defenders in the world as a “defender who integrates offense and defense”.
*See this article for Ajax build-ups!
(4) Role at United
As for Martinez’s role at United, the point of contention is still “CB or midfield”. Regarding this, the answer is “both are possible” (lol). Personally, though, I think Ten Hag sees him as a CB. Martinez has been DM since he focused on his Ajax season, and it wasn’t until he started playing CB that he really made it. And in that case, what many people are worried about is, “Will the physique of 178 cm 77 kg be accepted in the PL?” As mentioned above, I think there is no problem in terms of the strength of the Aerisl Duels and the strength of the physical contact.
Coach Ten Hag basically requires his team to have the ball. The first step is to get the ball in control and take the initiative. Martinez’s position should be assumed in the ball-holding situation, not in the non-ball holding situation. In other words, it depends on what height of the pitch you set the starting point of the build-up. If the final line can take a high position, Martinez will play in the CB as a distributor from the last line. On the other hand, if the ball holding is not going well and the line goes down, I think we will have to play in the anchor position.
So there’s a good chance that United will be used in midfield until the build-up and possession stabilize in the new season, but if the team’s possession of the ball stabilizes, the CB It will be. Well, that being said, the high level of utility is also one of Martinez’s selling points, so it would be good if you could use it flexibly (lol). If you are appointed as a CB, there is also the question of “Who is your partner?” I think there are pros and cons to this, but type-wise, teaming up with Maguire seems to work. There’s no doubt that Varane is also an excellent CB, but Martinez and Varane are rather similar in type. I think the ideal is a combination of “iron and curtain”, and I am also worried about the condition that Varane will not be able to operate at full capacity.Embed from Getty Images
Martinez admires fellow Gabriel Heinze, who also played for United. In terms of Argentine left-handed defender, he has something in common with Marcos Rojo, but in terms of style similarities he is probably closest to Ajax senior Daley Blind. Returning to Ajax from United, Blint established himself tactically important under Ten Hag. He was also a left-back last season, but it’s also symbolic that Martinez’s development is heavily involved in that. Let’s hope that under his mentor Ten Hag, he will also be a key tactical man at United!
* Click here for a collection of playing videos!
Thank you for reading until the end!