Manchester United - Football: Martinez close to switch
Manchester United have confirmed they have agreed to sign Argentine defender Lisandro Martinez from Ajax as Erik ten Hag continues to make his mark.
The Red Devils had been competing with Arsenal for Martinez's signature, but the 24-year-old is now just days away from becoming a Manchester United player, and the club's third signing of the summer.
United had issues all across the pitch last season, but the club's fanbase will now be hoping Martinez's arrival can boost their hopes of a top-four finish, with Ten Hag's side 2.50 to qualify for the Champions League.
The signs seem positive around the club this summer, but can Martinez make a difference at the back as United try to move on from the disappointment of the 2021/22 campaign?
Durable Martinez to make his mark at Old Trafford
United scouts have done their homework on Martinez, and the club have shown their faith in his ability by agreeing to pay a reported £57m for his services.
While the Ajax defender has yet to pass a medical, no issues are expected from that or for his UK visa, with United hoping to tie up loose ends over the coming days.
Due to the pressure United are under, Martinez will need to hit the ground running, but the Argentina international seems a solid fit for the Red Devils.
He played under Ten Hag at Ajax, winning the Eredivisie title in 2021 and 2022, while he also lifted the Dutch Cup in 2021. Martinez was named Ajax's player of the year for 2021-22, and he should add some balance to United's defence.
Captain Harry Maguire has been scrutinised heavily over the previous 18 months, but Martinez's arrival should take the pressure off him, while the duo could complement each other nicely with the imminent new arrival, a left-footed defender.
While Martinez's best position is at the heart of the defence, he can also play at left-back or in the middle of midfield, and Ten Hag will hope his durability can improve his options ahead of his debut season at Old Trafford.
Should Martinez complete the formalities of his move over the coming days, he will have around three weeks to prepare for the club's first game of the new campaign. United entertain Brighton at Old Trafford and are priced at 1.80 to win, while the Seagulls are 4.33 to win on their travels.
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With Martinez done, who is next?
Martinez should follow left-back Tyrell Malacia and midfielder Christian Eriksen through the door at Old Trafford, but it would come as a shock to see United's business end there.
The club's desire to sign Frenkie de Jong has not waned, although the Dutchman would prefer to stay at the Camp Nou, if rumours are to be believed.
While Ten Hag has already revealed that United are in the market for more forwards, they may face a fight to keep hold of Cristiano Ronaldo, although for now, no club has made an official approach for the Portugal international.
While United's business has been smart so far, they are still considered outsiders to win the Premier League title at 34.00.
New signings joining a happy dressing room
The current Manchester United squad have endured their fair share of abuse from the stands in recent seasons, and their failure to qualify for the Champions League was yet another failure for the Red Devils.
The decision to hire Ralf Rangnick after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's sacking proved to be the wrong one, but Ten Hag's arrival appears to have lifted the group.
Several members of the United squad have spoken positively about the new training regime, and while it has highlighted their weaknesses, the current group will hope they will reap the rewards in the months to come, especially with new faces joining in the coming days.
Left-back Luke Shaw has spoken positively about Ten Hag, and he says the future is bright under the former Ajax man, as he looks for another fresh start at the Theatre of Dreams.
Shaw told the club's media team: "The manager demands more, and we have to be better and better. After the first game, he said to the press, and he also said it to us as well, that there were mistakes made that we need to improve on, not just individually but as a team as well.
"It's really good to have an idea of what the manager wants, and it's down to us to go and show that on the pitch. And like I said, there is still much more to come from us, and this is only the start."
While United are far from the finished product, the signs are at least positive with less than a month to go before the new season. If everything goes to plan, Martinez should be a United player before the end of the week; it is then up to Ten Hag to work his magic on the training pitch to make sure the Red Devils are tough to beat come August.