Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag defied technical director Darren Fletcher’s transfer recommendations in order to pursue ex-Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez.
Erik ten Hag did not have everything his way during the transfer window, but the Dutchman will be pleased with the business Manchester United did do over the summer.
The former Ajax manager faced multiple setbacks, notably in the early parts of the transfer window, and was unable to get Frenkie de Jong, who was thought to be his main transfer priority. Ten Hag made up for it by investing large money in other players who could help United.
Ten Hag was intimately involved in two of Manchester United’s major summer deals. Both Antony and Lisandro Martinez were anxious to rejoin their former manager in the Premier League, but Ajax was unwilling to part with them cheaply.
Martinez had already settled into life in Manchester after completing the formalities of his transition weeks previously when Antony ultimately arrived at Old Trafford on deadline day in a transaction for up to £85.5 million.
Throughout the summer, Ten Hag was insistent that Martinez was the man to strengthen up United’s frail defense, so much so that he ignored technical director Darren Fletcher’s desire to pursue a different target.
Fletcher, who made over 340 appearances for Manchester United after graduating from the club’s youth, is a big fan of Nathan Collins, a former Stoke City teammate who joined Burnley last summer.
Ex-pro Roddy Collins predicted that the highly-rated Irish defender will go on to become a “£100 million player.” The defender was also available following Burnley’s relegation from the Premier League, but Ten Hag was unmoved and continued his pursuit of Martinez away from his previous club.
While Collins, who was afterward signed by Wolves, has made an excellent start at Molineux, Martinez has prospered at Old Trafford, proving Ten Hag’s choice.
After flourishing under Ten Hag for three years at Ajax, the fiery Argentine center-half is better familiar with Ten Hag’s philosophy and style, so it should come as no surprise that the 24-year-old has slotted effortlessly into United’s new-look team.
Martinez is so highly regarded by Ten Hag that he was immediately assigned to his preferred position as a left-sided center-back, a position previously occupied by club captain Harry Maguire.
Despite reservations about Martinez’s height, the two-time Eredivisie winner has immediately struck the eye with a combination of aggressive defense and his ability to break down defenses with accurate passes from deep, which was a trademark of the Ajax team that dominated Dutch football under Ten Hag.
The new Manchester United manager understood Martinez’s value to the club better than anybody else. Despite a difficult start, he has shown to be correct.