Ian Wright and Gary Lineker with high praise for Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez
Speaking on Match of the Day (h/t Manchester Evening News), former England strikers and pundits Ian Wright and Gary Lineker heaped praise on Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez after another good performance.
The Argentine international was superb at the back of the Red Devils in a tricky 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday. He has been in good form in the last few games, carrying on from where he left off before the World Cup.
Once Casemiro was sent off, Palace came hard at United with attacks from all corners. But in Martinez, they had a defender who was willing to put his body on the line and also read the game well.
Here’s what Wright and Lineker said about the former Ajax defender’s performance (h/t Manchester Evening News):
First up, Wright:
“That defender, man, Martinez at the back, he is something.”
“He’s gritty. Gritty. We saw a bit of that in Qatar [at the World Cup].”
Not bad from a player who was labelled as too ‘short to play as a centre-back’ in the Premier League. Yes, Jamie Carragher said that and may have regretted doing that by now. Martinez has been nothing short of exceptional in his first season in England.
Not just his defensive game, the 25-year-old is very good on the ball and comfortable in playing out from the back. So, Erik ten Hag can fully trust him to play in that left centre-back position, partnering with Raphael Varane.
Martinez is also versatile enough to operate as a left-back or as a defensive midfielder. With Casemiro suspended for three games, Scott McTominary or Fred are natural options to replace the Brazilian in defensive midfield.
But, the Argentine can do a job there as well. There can be a case for him playing there and Shaw playing the left centre-back role. We have seen the latter doing that to good effect in the first few games after the season resumption.
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It might be an alternate plan in ten Hag’s mind. For the standard approach, McTominay would be the go-to man to replace Casemiro, keeping Martinez in his natural position.