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Erik ten Hag’s Ajax reunion continues as Reds confirm Martinez deal

United boss is still hoping to sign Frenkie de Jong after a €84.6m deal was agreed with Barcelona

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Lisandro Martinez, who Manchester United have reached an agreement with Ajax to sign. Photo: John Walton/PA

Lisandro Martinez, who Manchester United have reached an agreement with Ajax to sign. Photo: John Walton/PA

Lisandro Martinez during his time at Ajax with manager Erik ten Hag

Lisandro Martinez during his time at Ajax with manager Erik ten Hag

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Lisandro Martinez, who Manchester United have reached an agreement with Ajax to sign. Photo: John Walton/PA

Manchester United have confirmed they have reached an agreement with Ajax to sign Lisandro Martinez in a deal worth up to £57m ($67m).

United have agreed to pay Ajax an initial £46.8m for the Argentina centre-half with a further £8.5m in add-ons plus solidarity payments on top of that.

Martinez will sign a five-year contract worth over £120,000 (€141k) a week with the option of another 12 months, with the deal expected to be completed once a visa has been approved and international clearance granted.

The 24-year-old will become the second-most expensive defender in United’s history after captain Harry Maguire, who cost £80m when he moved from Leicester City in 2019.

It means United now have £256m worth of senior central defenders on their books with Erik ten Hag also having Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones in the squad.

Bailly and Jones could leave, along with Axel Tuanzebe, but it remains to be seen if there is a market for them.

United’s recruitment department had recommended a move for Pau Torres, of Villarreal, but the club have opted to back Ten Hag’s judgment after he pushed for Martinez, his former player at Ajax.

The Dutch manager had also been interested in Ajax’s Jurrien Timber.

In a statement, the club said: “Manchester United is delighted to announce the club has reached agreement with Ajax for the transfer of Argentine international Lisandro Martinez, subject to medical, to player terms being finalised, and to UK visa requirements.”

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Martinez is very small by centre-half standards, standing just at 5ft 9in, but he has a good leap and Ten Hag rates him as a very adept one-on-one defender. Martinez moved to the Eredivisie outfit three years ago and made 120 appearances during that time, scoring on six occasions.

An Ajax statement read: “Ajax and Manchester United have reached an agreement for the transfer of Lisandro Martinez. The transfer is still subject to a medical examination and the contractual agreement of both clubs with the player. The defender is still under contract with Ajax until June 30, 2025. Ajax agreed a transfer fee of €57.37m with the English side. That amount can increase to €67.37m through variables.”

He becomes Ten Hag’s third signing after Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen and Netherlands left-back Tyrell Malacia.

Ten Hag is still hoping to sign Frenkie de Jong after a £72m (€84.6m) deal was agreed with Barcelona.

But his former midfielder at Ajax has joined Barcelona’s pre-season tour of the United States despite the uncertainty over his future and there is no obvious end in sight to the impasse because of wages owed to De Jong that he agreed to defer during the pandemic.

United have also had talks with Ajax over the Brazil forward Antony.

Of all the youngsters on United’s tour to Australia, few have impressed to the same extent as midfielder Zidane Iqbal.

The 19-year-old is an easy mover, has good orientation and is comfortable in possession, qualities Ten Hag admires in a player. Both he and his close friend Charlie Savage, son of the former Blackburn Rovers and Wales midfielder Robbie, have looked tidy alongside each other in midfield.

Meanwhile, United have been told that they cannot afford to allow Cristiano Ronaldo to leave Old Trafford this summer.

The Portugal forward, who is not on the club’s pre-season tour for personal reasons, wants to leave. Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Paris St-Germain have also distanced themselves from a move and Ronaldo has knocked back the offer of a two-year contract worth £233m (€273.8m) from an unnamed Saudi Arabian club.

Nani, Ronaldo’s former United and Portugal team-mate, believes it is important his old club keep hold of the 37-year-old.

“I hope so,” Nani said. “He’s an important player and a player who always makes a difference. I hope he’s in a good mood to help the club, so hopefully he’ll stay.”

Asked if he had spoken to Ronaldo about his future, Nani said: “No, when he’s on vacation he doesn’t answer the phone to anybody. I tried to talk to him, but he said, ‘I’m so busy now, we’ll talk soon’.” (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd, 2022)


Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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