Lisandro Martinez was absolutely pitch-perfect during Manchester United’s 1-0 win at Southampton on Saturday.
Signed from Ajax to the tune of £56.7 million this summer, Martinez has been put under the microscope by pundits and supporters alike largely due to the fact that he stands at five foot and nine inches in height.
It is, after all, a diminutive stature compared to what you’d usually expect for a centre-back, particularly in the Premier League where there is such an impetus on the physical side of the game.
However, looks can most certainly be deceiving and Martinez has really called the ‘he’s too small’ criticisms into question with his most recent performances in the famous red jersey.
Even the man himself would admit that he didn’t cover himself in glory during the Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford defeats, but even those wobbly displays are now starting to look like a result of wider circumstances around him.
That’s because Martinez has gone on to look like a man transformed since the two defenders beside him have been swapped from Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw to Raphael Varane and Tyrell Malacia.
It was an inspired move from Erik ten Hag not just in the broader context of United‘s performances, but also specifically in regards to Martinez who has duly come on leaps and bounds in the last two games.
In fact, the Argentina international very much proved that his masterclass in the Liverpool win wasn’t a one-off as he performed even better during United’s 1-0 win at St. Mary’s Stadium this weekend.
Martinez was handed the Man of the Match award for the second consecutive game as he looked impenetrable at the heart of United’s defence, guiding them to a first clean sheet of the season.
According to Statman Dave, United’s new signing delivered seven clearances, four interceptions, 48 passes, 61 touches, 100% successful dribbles and 100% ground duels won across a fantastic day at the office.
Oh, and he raised two fingers to claims that he’s too small to succeed as a Premier League centre-back by winning all five of his aerial duels against the Saints.
So all that considered, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise to learn that Martinez’s individual highlights from the Southampton win have gone down a treat on Twitter, so be sure to check them out for yourself down below:
Too small? Too soft? Too slight? No chance.
It’s still early doors, don’t get it twisted, but the transformation that Martinez has gone through already having been shored up with Varane and Malacia either side of him has been remarkable.
At the end of the day, even some of the world’s best centre-backs would have a tough time playing at their very best with out of form players – which, sadly, we must say is the case for Maguire and Shaw – alongside them.
And when you see Martinez playing like an absolute rock in the Liverpool and Southampton wins, it’s hard not to think that that reality is exactly why he looked out of sorts in the opening two games.
Now, the only way is up, because Martinez has more than proved with two fabulous MOTM displays that ‘The Butcher’ has plenty of meat on the bones. All five foot, nine inches of him.
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