Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has predicted where Lisandro Martinez could play for the club next season.
The Argentine is set to become the Red Devils’ third signing of the transfer window, subject to a medical and a work permit.
The 24-year-old is a central defender by trade, but he is also capable of operating as a left-back or as a holding midfielder.
With the arrival of Tyrell Malacia, it is unlikely that Martinez could feature at left-back, but other positions are open for him.
Speaking on his VIBE with Five Podcast, Ferdinand said that Martinez is very comfortable in central defence and in midfield.
The 43-year-old added that Martinez could be an option in front of the back four when United need more protection in the big games.
He said: “I think they’ll be a mix. He’s very comfortable playing both positions. I think he could play in there [midfield] quite easily. I think they’ll pick and choose the games, and mix it up for when it suits them.”
“If it suits them to play him in midfield and have the extra body and resilience in there, in front of the back four and that extra protection from someone who knows how to defend – then I think it may be utilised.
“But if we’ve got a lot of the ball and we’re expected to dominate possession against the so-called lesser teams then he may not be called upon in that position [midfield] and he may slot back into centre-back position.”
Martinez will be a key player for Man Utd
Martinez had a superb 2021/22 campaign at Ajax where he impressed with every defensive attribute. He won two tackles per league game alongside 1.9 interceptions and 2.8 clearances.
The Argentine also won over three aerial duels despite not being an imposing centre-back (175cm). On top of this, he completed 89% of his passes with 5.4 long balls on average.
Hence, there are not any weaknesses in his game. The only possible concern could be the added intensity of the Premier League. He may have lesser reaction time to make his decisions.
We still fancy him to make an immediate impact, considering he played under manager Erik ten Hag for the past three seasons at Ajax, and should be well versed with the playing style.
Martinez has largely operated as the left-sided centre-back for Ajax (being left-footed), and he should slot into a similar position for United. However, a midfield role for him can’t be ruled out.
Against teams such as Manchester City and Liverpool, United may want more defensive assurance in the centre of the park. Martinez would provide that with his tenacious nature.
United have made a huge outlay of around £55.3 million to sign the Argentine, but the decision should be worthwhile. He provides the club with a solid upgrade in two positions.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com and WhoScored.com