Arsenal are looking to improve in the defensive department ahead of the new campaign. And it seems Edu has identified Lisandro Martinez as the ideal defender to help the Gunners.
However, It could be Louis van Gaal who plays the biggest part in ensuring a deal between Ajax and Arsenal for Martinez happens due to his World Cup squad selection in November. Another Ajax defender in Jurrien Timber has also been linked with a move away from the Eredivise but now this seems unlikely.
It would be unlikely for Ajax to sell both of their starting centre-backs in the summer transfer window. Arsenal may have been given a boost by Timber’s potential decision to stay at the club.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Dutch journalist Marcel van der Kraan explained how former United boss Van Gaal persuaded Timber to opt against joining Manchester United.
“The player was ready, I think, to come. His agent went over to London to Manchester United’s offices two weeks ago and they had very good talks,” Van der Kraan said.
“Money was never a problem, but then one man turned up – Louis van Gaal. He told the player in the Dutch camp, ‘Look, if you go there, I think your chances could be limited to play for Holland in the World Cup three months later’.
This is a major boost for the Gunners who have registered a strong interest in Martinez. According to The Athletic, Arsenal’s priority is Martinez, due to the 24-year-old’s ability to play at centre-back and left-back. Martinez is reportedly keen on a move to the Emirates Stadium, and Ajax are reported to have rejected a bid in the region of £25million.
Despite being a defender by trade, Martinez has shown the necessary qualities during his time at Ajax that he is also capable of featuring in the middle of the park. Martinez ranked second in the Eredivisie, only behind Daley Blind, in terms of most progressive passes per 90 minutes (14.34) and passes into the final third per 90 minutes (13.43).
The Argentina international has played 139 games at centre-back and 22 matches as a defensive midfielder. This highlights that he does have the experience of featuring the middle of the park, and that he could be a backup option for the Gunners.
Van Gaal could have played a major part in Arsenal’s pursuit of a new centre-back. If Arteta does secure the signing of Martinez, then he may have to thank the former Manchester United manager.