Arsenal are pushing hard to wrap up the signing of Lisandro Martinez from Ajax ahead of the first pre-season fixture, which is set to take place on July 8 against German side FC Nurnberg. Edu has been extremely proactive in this window by already completing three signings in the same month of the market opening.
Martinez could be the Gunners’ fifth capture this summer after Marqininhos, Fabio Vieira, and Matt Turner had been announced. Gabriel Jesus has also undertaken a medical at London Colney ahead of a potential transfer from Manchester City.
The pursuit of Martinez was certainly a surprising development, but his versatility highlights why he will be a key signing if Edu can secure his signature. Statistics prove that he is just as effective at full-back as he is in his natural position at centre-back.
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 rumoured to have rejected a bid in the region of £25million.
Arsenal’s pursuit for the defender intensified on Monday, as the Gunners have made a second bid worth around €40million (£34million), according to the Telegraph. While it is an improved offer, Ajax are believed to value the player at €50million (£43million) to let him go.
One of the reasons why the Gunners are battling for his signature is due to his effectiveness in areas of the pitch other than his natural position at centre-back. This is highlighted by the impressive statistics that Martinez made 13.4 passes into the final third per 90 minutes in the league last season.
Daley Blind and Trent Alexander-Arnold were the only defenders in Europe’s top seven leagues that averaged more. This highlights the impact that Martinez can have from other positions aside from the centre-back role, as it is not a defender’s requirement to pass into the final third.
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.
Youri Tielemans seemed to be the ideal target to improve the middle of the park for Arsenal, but this is reportedly no longer the case. Mikel Arteta’s side have ‘cooled’ their interest in Tielemans, according to Sky Sports. The report claims that it’s become increasingly likely that the Belgium international now signs a one-year contract extension at the King Power Stadium, with his current deal set to expire in 12 months.
Arteta utilised Thomas Partey and Xhaka in a pivot alongside Martin Odegaard throughout last season, which saw Arsenal have a lot of success, and it would be unlikely for the Spaniard to bench one of the two deeper midfielders in Xhaka or Partey. This is due to the experience that they bring to the side, and Arsenal’s win percentage sees a major increase when they start together.
It could also be because of this that Arteta instead wants to sign a player who would be a useful backup in midfield and has the versatility to feature elsewhere. This could explain Arsenal’s insistence on buying Martinez and their interest in cooling on Tielemans. They would be expected to start in the centre of midfield and not in a different position.
Martinez’s impressive statistics, which compare him to Alexander-Arnold, considered one of the best creative defenders in world football, highlight the quality Arsenal will be signing if they can secure the Argentine’s signature.