Lisandro Martinez became Manchester United’s third summer signing this week and his arrival could force two other defenders to seek a transfer from Erik ten Hag’s side
Eric Bailly and Ethan Laird are reportedly set to leave Manchester United following the big-money arrival of Lisandro Martinez.
Martinez was confirmed on Wednesday as United’s third summer signing after the club agreed to pay Ajax £47million, plus £8.5m in potential add-ons. The Argentina international is a favourite of Erik ten Hag, who also brought him to Amsterdam in 2019, and joins Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen at Old Trafford.
The 24-year-old has signed a five-year contract with the option of a further 12 months and will compete with Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane for a place in the starting XI. The arrival is a timely boost for Ten Hag, who has been frustrated in the pursuit of his number one transfer target, Frenkie de Jong, but comes as a blow to Bailly and Laird.
Both were already fringe players in the United squad and Martinez’s arrival could provide the impetus for moves away from the club. According to The Athletic, AC Milan and Roma are interested in signing Bailly, while Watford have opened talks over a season-long loan for Laird.
Bailly is under contract with United until at least June 2024 after signing an extension back in April 2021, which includes the option of a further 12 months. But he has struggled for game time in recent seasons, playing just seven times in all competitions in 2021/22 after contracting Covid-19 and picking up an ankle injury.
The 28-year-old joined United in a £34m move from Villarreal in June 2016, but it seems a move is in the best interests of both parties. The Mirror understands he would be available for less than £10m this summer, with United keen to offload. Jose Mourinho knows Bailly from his time at the club and already has one ex-United player, Chris Smalling, in his back line.
Laird is a different case. The 20-year-old defender came through United’s academy and has spent loan spells at MK Dons, Swansea, and Bournemouth in the past two seasons. The right-back is behind Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the pecking order and wants game time.
Ten Hag has suggested that Martinez’s knowledge of his way of playing means he could go straight into his starting XI, despite missing the pre-season tours of Thailand and Australia. “He’s a warrior and I think the fans will admire him. He has an attitude, fighting spirit,” he said.
“He brings aggressiveness in the game, in a good way. I think we need that. But also, he’s also skilful and he can deal with the ball and he’s left-footed.
“I think the Premier League is high intensity, lots of challenges. We need such players [with fighting spirit]. Certain ideas, he knows them. That is an advantage, clearly. But also he has to adapt, to a new country, a new club, new teammates. So also a lot of things will be different.”