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Manchester United report: Red Devils lead Arsenal in race for 'new Javier Mascherano'

Lisandro Martinez
(Image credit: Getty)

Manchester United lead Arsenal in the race to sign Ajax centre-back Lisandro Martinez, according to reports.

Both Premier League clubs are interested in signing the Argentina international this summer.

Erik ten Hag worked with Martinez at the Johan Cruyff Arena and is keen to be reunited with him in Manchester.

Arsenal (opens in new tab) manager Mikel Arteta is also a fan of the 24-year-old, who can operate as a holding midfielder as well as a centre-half.

Martinez's versatility, nationality and height - he is just 5 feet 9 inches tall - have seen him likened to Javier Mascherano.

Lisandro Martinez

(Image credit: Getty)

The former Liverpool (opens in new tab) and Barcelona (opens in new tab) man started out as a midfielder before being moved back into the heart of the backline.

According to Goal (opens in new tab), Arsenal's interest in Martinez has cooled, potentially giving United (opens in new tab) a free run at the ex-Newell's Old Boys stopper.

The Gunners were unable to agree a fee with Ajax (opens in new tab) and are now looking at other options.

The Dutch giants, for whom Martinez has made over 100 appearances in all competitions since his move to the Netherlands in 2019, 

The latest reports (opens in new tab) suggest Ajax are holding out for £52m for the 24-year-old - and that price could rise further the closer we get to the start of the 2022/23 campaign.

Erik ten Hag

(Image credit: Getty)

United are still pushing hard for Martinez and believe they can get a deal done, but the club could turn its attention to alternatives if negotiations continue to stall.

The player himself is thought to be keen on a move to the Premier League and has reportedly urged Ajax to agree terms with United.

Old Trafford has long been seen as a more likely destination than the Emirates Stadium due to Martinez's relationship with Ten Hag.

It is not yet clear whether the United boss intends to use the Argentine as a central defender or as a holding midfielder.

Martinez tended to play at the back under Ten Hag at Ajax, but that does not necessarily mean he would be deployed there in the Premier League.

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