MANCHESTER, England (AP)Manchester United completed the signing of Argentina center back Lisandro Martinez from Ajax for nearly $58 million on Wednesday, a move that casts doubt on the status of much-criticized captain Harry Maguire.
Martinez signed a five-year deal with the option of an extra 12 months at United, with the clubs having reached agreement on the transfer 10 days ago.
Martinez links up again with recently hired United manager Erik ten Hag, who he played under at Ajax, in a signal that the team will have more of a possession-based style this season. Martinez is a ball-playing defender who is left footed – characteristics that are highly sought-after in the modern game.
He is set to be deployed as the left-sided center back, a position currently occupied by Maguire. The England international endured a tough year last season and was booed by sections of United’s supporters during the preseason tour of Thailand and Australia.
Ten Hag also has Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof as center backs in the squad, so Maguire isn’t a guaranteed starter, even if he has been retained as club captain for this season.
”I’ve worked so hard to get to this moment and now that I’m here I’m going to push myself even further,” said Martinez, who won the Copa America with Argentina in 2021 and two Dutch league titles with Ajax.
”I’ve been lucky enough to be part of successful teams in my career and that’s what I want to continue at Manchester United. There will be a lot of work to get to that moment, but I firmly believe that under this manager and coaches, and together with my new teammates, we can do it.”
Ajax has already said the transfer fee will be 57.37 million euros ($57.9 million) with a potential further 10 million euros for the Dutch club in conditional add-ons.
The 24-year-old Martinez has played seven times for Argentina.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports