Erik ten Hag has returned to his old club Ajax to secure the signing of Lisandro Martinez

Manchester United’s rebuild is continuing at pace after new boss Erik ten Hag returned to his former club Ajax to secure the capture of Lisandro Martinez, the tough tackling defender known by fans of his former club as the “Butcher of Amsterdam.”

The deal for the 24-year-old is reported to be just shy of £47 million ($55 million) with a further £8.5 million ($10 million) in future performance-based add-ons also included in the deal. It is understood that United beat Premier League rivals Arsenal to his signing. 

Martinez is a known commodity for former Ajax boss Ten Hag, who has been tasked with reversing the club’s recent dramatic downturn after both Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and Ralf Rangnick failed to impress last season in what was the club’s worst campaign of the Premier League era. 

The seven-times capped Argentina international played 120 times for Ten Hag’s Ajax team, winning two Dutch league titles during that time and established himself as one of the top young central defenders in Europe. 

Martinez is the third signing for Manchester United so far this summer, and is the latest figure with experience in Dutch football to have signed for the club early into Ten Hag’s reign. 

He follows left-back Tyrell Malacia who joined from Feyenoord, as well as former Inter Milan, Spurs and Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen, who joined on a free transfer following the expiration of his short-term deal with Brentford. 

United are also chasing the signature of another alumnus of Dutch football, Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona (and, yes, formerly of Ajax). 

In a brief statement, the club said they were “delighted” to agree the deal which they say will become official once medical checks are complete.

Martinez will compete with club captain Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof for a role in the center of Manchester United’s defence. Despite standing just 5ft 9in tall, the left-sided player recorded more successful aerial duels that Maguire last season.

He is comfortable on the ball and has shown an eye for an impressive range of passing out from the back; something which has been lacking at Old Trafford in recent seasons – as well as the hard-nosed edge he vows to bring to club.

In a recent interview, Martinez summed up his influence on matches by saying: “I am called the carnicero – the Butcher – of Amsterdam. We Argentines do ­everything with passion and when I go out on the pitch I fight for every ball. If I have to step over dead bodies, I do it.

“I want to win every 50-50 situation because I know that I am fighting for food for every member of my family and for my friends. That is the feeling I have – and every Argentinian has. It is the kind of motivation I cannot explain.”

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