Lisandro Martinez names former Man Utd defender as his ‘idol’ in first interview since transfer

The new Manchester United recruit idolised another Argentinian centre-back as a child.
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Lisandro Martinez has described former Manchester United defender Gabriel Heinze as his ‘idol’ following his move to the Red Devils.

The 24-year-old was announced as the club’s third summer signing of the window on Wednesday, following the arrivals of Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen.

Martinez boosts United’s centre-back options and is expected to challenge for a starting spot alongside Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane.

The defender will also become the eighth Argentinian to represent the Red Devils, following in the footsteps of the likes of Juan Sebastian Veron, Carlos Tevez and Angel Di Maria.

Martinez has played seven times for Argentina. Credit: Getty.Martinez has played seven times for Argentina. Credit: Getty.
Martinez has played seven times for Argentina. Credit: Getty.

When asked about continuing United’s link with the country, Martinez revealed he was a huge fan of Heinze as a youngster, with the ex-Red Devil representing the club between 2004 and 2007.

“Yeah. Especially Gabriel Heinze,” Martinez told United’s website. “He’s my idol. It’s also very important to be here, because like you say he was playing here. This was one of my challenges, also.”

Asked which attributes Martinez admired most in Heinze, he responded: “The tackles, the passes, the mentality.”

Gabriel Heinze spent three years at Old Trafford as a player. Credit: Getty.Gabriel Heinze spent three years at Old Trafford as a player. Credit: Getty.
Gabriel Heinze spent three years at Old Trafford as a player. Credit: Getty.

The former Ajax man has been a regular in the Argentina squad over the last year and was part of the team that made it to the Copa America final last summer.

Martinez is also expected to be in La Albiceleste’s squad for the World Cup in November, and was asked about United’s popularity in his homeland.

“It’s very big,” he explained. “I can’t say but now I think many people know Manchester United because there are many good players. The people for sure know Manchester United are a big club. A really big club.”

Ten Hag’s impact

Martinez’s signing continues United’s summer transfer policy of bringing in new players with links to Dutch football, yet Martinez is the first recruit to have played under Erik ten Hag at Ajax.

Several players such as Frenkie de Jong, Antony, Jurrien Timber and Nicolas Tagliafico have been linked with the Red Devils since Ten Hag’s arrival at Old Trafford, and Martinez could be the first of many current or former Ajax players to make the move to Manchester.

But United’s new recruit evidently has a real bond with Ten Hag, and Martinez credits the manager with transforming him into a player worthy of up to £57m.

“Well, I was with him three years at Ajax and I know his style of playing. With him, I improved a lot to be honest,” the centre-back explained.

“He’s here in Manchester now, so again the opportunity was there and for sure he’s very important in my career."

Asked what Ten Hag demands of his players, Martinez responded: “Well, very intense, for sure. Good football. Winning mentality, you know? That’s the most important.

"Every player needs to have things clear. I think he’s very clear also so I think with him every day you can learn and then in the game you can understand also fully – tactics and everything.”