Why Lisandro Martinez is the perfect signing for Arsenal

Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith Updated: 27 Jun 2022 21:29 BST 4 min read
Lisandro Martinez, Ajax, 2021/22

Arsenal are firmly in the hunt to sign versatile Ajax star Lisandro Martinez and have officially launched their latest bid.

Mikel Arteta's side have been active in the transfer market already, adding New England goalkeeper Matt Turner, Sao Paulo forward Marquinhos and Porto midfielder Fabio Vieira, while Gabriel Jesus will arrive from Manchester City.

They also remain keen on Leeds winger Raphinha as the Arsenal board look to give Arteta a team capable of reclaiming Champions League status.

One of their priorities, however, is adding Ajax's Argentine international Martinez to their squad.

The Gunners have been following the player for a little while and have submitted several bids to the Eredivise giants. De Telegraaf have reported that Arsenal have now submitted a €40 million bid, with add-ons included, to Ajax.

However, Fabrizio Romano has reported that the Amsterdam club are resolute in their asking price of €50m. Ryan Gravenberch, Noussair Mazraoui and Sebastian Haller, all team-mates to Martinez last season, have left and Jurrien Timber and Antony have both been linked with a move to follow Erik ten Hag to Manchester United as Ajax undergone a summer of change.

The Old Trafford club have also registered their interest in Martinez, but Arsenal are pushing to make a move happen. With William Saliba returning from his loan spell at Marseille, where he won the Ligue 1 'Young Player of the Year' award, to add to first choice pairing Benjamin White and Gabriel Magalhaes, a space doesn't seem available to Martinez.

However, his versatility means he'd be the perfect signing to plug multiple holes this summer.

If Ajax don't budge on their €50m valuation and Arsenal are forced to pay it, the Gunners will have still bought a centre-back, left-back and centre midfielder all rolled into one for less than they paid to sign White from Brighton & Hove Albion last summer.

Ben White joined Arsenal in 2021

Ben White joined Arsenal in 2021

That's because Martinez can play all three of those roles to an expert level. Whilst the claim could be made that White can play centre-back, right-back and in midfield, he hasn't for Arsenal, and he rarely featured in a position other than centre-back while at The Amex.

Martinez, on the other hand, is exceptionally multi-faceted. The Argentine would arrive as a very small Premier League centre-back, at just 5ft 9in, but it's unlikely he'd be used there.

Jules Kounde's proposed move to Chelsea received its critics due to the Frenchman's height, and Martinez is even smaller. However, he wouldn't be used as a starting centre-back in a back four.

Instead, Martinez would be the perfect facilitator for others. Kieran Tierney's injury issues left far too much responsibility on Nuno Tavares' young shoulders last season, who proved to be fairly erratic during his first year in England.

Martinez would be an excellent back-up to Tierney should injury befall him again, as well as providing cover at centre-back in case of a crisis, and allow Arteta to move to a back three on occasion if desired.

Furthermore, with Granit Xhaka now 29 and with a dodgy record of suspension-related absences and Thomas Partey as injury-prone as Tierney, Martinez would likely find himself in the double pivot fairly regularly and he'd be wonderful there.

Not a traditional centre-back at Ajax by any means, due to their dominance in possession, Martinez has the license to distribute from deep and he does it expertly. Whether it's a short, penetrative pass forwards or a long switch of play, he has it in his locker.

Lisandro Martinez helped Ajax win the Eredivisie title in 2021/22

Lisandro Martinez helped Ajax win the Eredivisie title in 2021/22

Martinez's form in a little over 700 Champions League minutes last season saw him rank in the top one percent of all centre-backs in Europe's top five leagues and European competition for: assists, shot-creating actions, passes attempted, progressive passes and tackles per 90.

He truly can do it all, and those are the technical skills that would naturally translate from playing in the Champions League to playing in the Premier League. Physicality may be an issue, but if he played alongside a more dominant midfielder, like Partey for example, that weakness would be sufficiently covered for.

With the injury issues in Arsenal's squad, and their desire to sign yet more attacking talent, signing a versatile player to cover three different positions, with the quality to match, is a no-brainer.

A €50m fee may seem steep for a talent from the Eredivisie, but Martinez would instantly improve Arsenal's squad as they look to break free of the chains holding them back from regular Champions League qualification.

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