Rio Ferdinand has declared Manchester United summer signing Lisandro Martinez as the best defender in the Premier League right now.
Man Utd beat Arsenal to Martinez’s capture in July by paying Ajax just shy of £57million for him, according to Sky Sports. The centre-half was brought in to rival Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof for a starting spot under Erik ten Hag.
And Martinez has gone on to become one of the first names on the team sheet for his manager. He has made 31 appearances in all competitions so far this season, chipping in with one goal.
Martinez has looked solid alongside Varane in recent weeks. Their strong defensive partnership has helped Man Utd to pick up four wins and one draw from their last five outings.
Ferdinand has been so impressed by the Argentine that the pundit has now put him up there as the best defender in England, ahead of stars from Arsenal, Manchester City and Newcastle.
During an appearance on his Vibe with Five YouTube channel, Ferdinand said: “On form right now, I don’t think there’s really much argument coming from anywhere else.
“I think he’s dominant, he’s aggressive, he’s a leader, he communicates well, he shows character, he’s there in big moments.
“But I was one of the ones questioning, ‘Is he physically gonna be able to compete here if teams isolate him, if teams isolate him?’
Rio Ferdinand praises player and Man Utd recruitment staff
“And that’s where Erik ten Hag has been confident in tactically being able to keep teams away from being able to dominate enough possession to isolate someone like Martinez.
“And, up till now, he hasn’t been exposed in that sense. On a regular basis, week after week, are we not sitting there going, ‘That’s a recurring problem, there. It continues to happen, someone’s pulling out on him and jumping over him or bullying him physically.’
“We haven’t seen that, that hasn’t become the narrative. And you have to say well done to him but also well done to the recruitment up to now.”
Ferdinand is not the only pundit to heap praise on Martinez recently. While featuring on The Overlap, Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher said: “I think he’s been brilliant. To be that small and play centre-back, you obviously have to be a special player, a good player.
Jamie Carragher also praises Lisandro Martinez
“Now, I didn’t think someone of that size could cope in the Premier League. But he has coped, and he’s been brilliant.
“He’s been a big part of Manchester United’s spirit. There was a game I saw a few weeks ago and he was actually a sub, and someone scored a late goal, and he was right involved in the celebrations.
“Obviously you see him at the World Cup with Argentina, we saw him have that fight – with him and Casemiro coming in, they feel more powerful and strong.
“But I didn’t think a centre-back of that size would be able to cope. Listen, he can still get exposed in the air, that has to happen at some stage.
“But every player has got weaknesses; the best players hide them or make sure they don’t get exposed. And I think he’s a really good player and he’s surprised me the way he’s coped. Or, basically, how teams can’t get at him.”
Keeping Martinez fit will be essential if Man Utd are to win some silverware this season and qualify for next year’s Champions League. They are through to the Carabao Cup final and remain in the Europa League and FA Cup, too.
Plus, Ten Hag has put his team in a great position to make the top four. They currently sit in third spot, four points ahead of Tottenham who occupy fifth place.
Meanwhile, Ten Hag will be delighted after Man Utd completed another midfield deal.