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What Lisandro Martinez could bring to Arsenal

By Jahid Islam

Hello readers of We Love You Arsenal! I’m Jahid (@JahidFullStop) and after a difficult exam period, followed by a subsequently lengthy writer’s block, I’m back with an article looking at a transfer target that seems to have come out of nowhere.

Lisandro Martinez won Ajax’s player of the season in the year gone by, and it’s evident to see why. With a superb technical ability beyond anything we’ve seen in ‘traditional’ centre-backs, Martinez is anything but orthodox. I mean, 5”10 for a centre-back isn’t normal. He shouldn’t be that good in the air either. And a perusal of some compilations would demonstrate his remarkable, abnormal, and beautiful passing ability.

…But then again, to consider him just a centre back is an egregious insult to his versatility.

With a nickname like ‘The Butcher’, owing to his ruthless aggression and physicality, he’s been deployed in that Ajax side just like a butcher’s knife. With fantastic performances as a number 6 defensive midfielder vs Chelski in the Champions League a while back and excellent defensive displays at both left-back and centre-back for club and country, he’s a player who gives his all on the pitch. ‘Pashun and desiyah’ etc.

In an interview he gave a while back for AjaxTV, the reasoning for his aggressiveness is laid bare and brutally honest. Martinez is quoted as saying:

“Every time I’m playing, I’m remembering moments where my parents didn’t have money for food.”

Fucking hell. That’s a tremendously harsh upbringing, but in part explains his balls-to-the-wall playing style that some may consider reckless.

It’s also funny to see criticism made of Arsenal’s pursuit of Martinez. Blatantly false statements such as “He’s too short to be a centre back”, “Too aggro” or that the physicality of the premier league would somehow overwhelm a man with that terrifying nickname are laughable. Trust me, 5”4 is too short for a centre back. I think he’ll fine at 5”9.

Moreover, it's unlikely that he’ll be deployed at centre-back in an Arteta system. With William Saliba rejoining the first team from a marvellous loan spell at Marseille, it seems evident that a rotating core of Benjamin Blanco, Gabriel Maghalhaes and Wilo Saliba will compete for those starting centre-back berths.

With Kieran Tierney either being injured or perpetually linked to a move away from the club, the coup of Martinez will likely be to reinforce and compete for that left sided flank. Bid adieu to the days of relying on the clearly unprepared Nuno Tavares, the woefully inconsistent Cédric Soares, or the compromise of playing Xhaka there.

Considering the fact that Takehiro Tomiyasu is also able to play as a centre-back if needed, Arteta and Edu’s search criteria could never be clearer; youthful players who can offer significant depth in a plethora of positions. And with European football finally back on the cards, albeit not in its premier competition, depth in every single position is essential to maintaining both a domestic charge, and European campaign. It’s an emulation of Man City’s entire modus operandi, which has worked quite well for them, I’d say. Have that, Gary Neville.

A transfer for Lisandro Martinez would be a supremely clever bit of business from Edu Gaspar. He’s a player who wouldn’t just provide back up for one spot, but bring much needed depth, competition and aggressiveness to both our defence and midfield. With a reported fee of £30million or so, it’d be one hell of a notch on Edu’s belt in what is shaping to be a very impressive summer transfer window. GET IT DONE!

I’ve been Jahid (@JahidFullStop) for We Love You Arsenal! Cheers for reading, and I’ll catch you in the next one. Ba-bye!

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