Manchester United target Lisandro Martinez says he is like Cannavaro and learned everything under Ten Hag

Manchester United are looking to wrap up the signing of defender Lisandro Martinez in the coming days.

Positive talks were held over the weekend with Ajax, De Telegraaf reported. The Red Devils would like to clinch a move before flying out for pre-season tour.

Martinez was previously signed by Erik ten Hag for Ajax and won the club’s player of the season award in 2021/22. For a centre-back to do so, in a team which scored more than 100 goals in all competitions, is an impressive feat.

Martinez’s idol as a youngster was Gabriel Heinze, but he also took particular inspiration from 2006 Ballon d’Or winner Fabio Cannavaro.

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Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Martinez says he is like Cannavaro

A question some supporters on social media have asked of Martinez is over his height. The Argentine stands at ‘just’ 5ft 9″ tall.

This hasn’t held him back in his career so far. He averaged 3.3 aerial duels won per game last season, the second highest in the Ajax squad behind only striker Sebastien Haller. The figures are also better than the highest United defenders last season, with Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire averaging 2.5 aerial duels won per game.

Martinez has his own explanation for his aerial ability, saying he has modelled his game on Fabio Cannavaro, who won the World Cup, and did not let his height of 5 ft 9″ hold him back.

Quoted by The Mirror, Martinez said: “Cannavaro was ­comfortable on the ball. And, despite his lack of height, he challenged for every ball as if it was the last tackle to win the game. I loved that style – and I am just like him.”

“I would prefer not to be like Virgil van Dijk. His height is certainly a big plus, but when you don’t have the other qualities, it is worth nothing.”

Photo by ANP via Getty Images

Credits Erik ten Hag for success

Erik ten Hag signed Martinez as a replacement for Matthijs de Ligt. He has gone onto be a huge success at Ajax.

Martinez speaks glowingly about Ten Hag and thanks him for his contribution to his spell in the Eredivisie.

He said: “My favourite position is definitely central defence. I started out as a midfielder, but I learned all the ­qualities for a central defender who plays in an attacking team under Ten Hag. I can look after myself.”

Martinez is expected to favour a move to United over any other Premier League club, with Ten Hag the biggest reason why. He knows he will fit the manager’s playing style.

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