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Lisandro Martinez has brought one unique trait that Manchester United have been missing for a decade

Lisandro Martinez has brought one unique trait that Manchester United have been missing for a decade

Lisandro Martinez has brought one unique ability that Erik ten Hag is using, which Manchester United have missed for a decade.

Away from what those in the media had to say about Lisandro Martinez in his early weeks of joining Manchester United, the Argentina international has been flawless.

In United’s opening two games of the season, Martinez was partnered alongside club captain Harry Maguire, in which Martinez did show his qualities on and off the ball.

However, the only topic of discussion was the fact that the Reds had lost back-to-back games in the Premier League against Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford in embarrassing fashion.

Since then, United’s campaign has drastically improved, though there has been bumps in the road, with Erik ten Hag’s side losing to Real Sociedad in the Europa League and city rivals Manchester City, but Martinez has been heavily involved, and a bright spark, in the majority of those games.

Aside from Martinez’s warrior-like defending and aggression, United’s No.6 is a fantastic ball player, with that being one of the reasons why Ten Hag brought him to Old Trafford with him from Ajax.

United’s previous Dutch manager Louis van Gaal brought left-footed centre-back Daley Blind to the club in his first summer in charge, but Martinez possesses qualities like no other defender to play for the club in recent years.

With Maguire and Victor Lindelof being the favoured duo in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure at the club, the team lacked a balance from back to front, and Ten Hag addressed that instantly with the signing of Martinez and left-footed right winger Antony.

What does Martinez give Erik ten Hag’s side?

Martinez gives the Reds a great dimension in working their way out of a press, creating angles that a right-footer simply cannot in his position.

Although United weren’t as well coached under Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick last campaign as they are with Ten Hag, they did struggle to play out from the back, with both central defenders being right-footed.

Per 90 this season, Martinez has averaged a pass completion of 88.7%, boasting a staggering 5.82 progressive passes, and these aren’t irrelevant stats in today’s game.

It’s often these passes that allow United to get further up the pitch and transition from defence to attack in quick succession, with fellow centre-back Raphael Varane not as good on the ball and distribution one of goalkeeper David de Gea’s lesser qualities, though this has improved in recent games.

Diogo Dalot, Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane celebrate against Leicester City. (Man Utd)
Diogo Dalot, Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane celebrate against Leicester City. (Man Utd)

Martinez’s frequent passes into the half spaces towards Bruno Fernandes and the inverted left-back, whether that be Tyrell Malacia or Luke Shaw allows United to create a number of chances and put their opponents on the backfoot.

Against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, Martinez dealt with Spurs’ outlet Harry Kane exceptionally well, where he won two of his four tackles and allowing United to sustain their attacks.

In the clash against Conte’s side, Bruno Fernandes created nine chances, and a lot of them opportunities began from Martinez coming out on top in his duels.

In addition, United had 28 shots in the game, making it the most by any team in the Premier League this season.

The angles Martinez can create opens up the pitch, giving United more options.

Like we have seen with Pep Guardiola’s City side’s, Ten Hag prefers to keep one of his wingers wide and uninvolved in play when the ball is on one side of the pitch.

Although we haven’t yet seen much of Martinez hitting a diagonal to Antony who thrives in 1v1’s against the opposing full-back, it means the switch of play to the Brazilian is made easier from left to right because of Martinez’s qualities and favoured foot.

When playing together, Martinez and Varane have kept four clean sheets, having won five, drawn once and lost once.

With United just 14 games into the Erik ten Hag era, building a solid foundation from the back is a great start for the 52-year-old, and having Martinez and Varane has certainly helped Ten Hag’s cause at Old Trafford.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Erik Ten Hag, Lisandro Martinez, Manchester United