Hot on the heels of the sheer joy of winning the title, Ajax have moved swiftly to boost their squad with the recruitment of highly-regarded central defender Lisandro Martinez from Defensa.
In a move that surely confirms that Matthijs de Ligt is on his way out of the club, the Sons of Gods swooped for Martinez, who is aged 21, and he has put pen to paper on a four-year deal at the Johan Cruyff Arena. De Ligt is being strongly linked with a move to Barcelona, with the Catalan giants already having snapped up Frenkie de Jong.
It makes him the Dutch champions’ fourth capture since the curtain came down on last season’s campaign after already snaring centre-back Kik Pierie from Heerenveen, keeper Kjell Scherpen from Emmen and midfielder Razvan Marin from Standard Liege. And the activity has been met with support from pundits and fans alike.
Martinez, who will now team up with fellow Argentines Nicolas Tagliafico and Lisandro Magallan, has proved to be a solid player for Defensa. He made 55 appearances for them after joining on loan from Newell’s Old Boys in 2017 before making the switch permanent. And his displays meant that he was soon handed his Argentina cap when he made his debut in March in a game against Venezuela.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Ajax director Marc Overmars, the former Arsenal winger, said that Martínez ‘s versatility was a key factor in bringing him to the club. He added: “Martínez is a left-footed player who can play in multiple positions at the back. He is a defender who wants to play forward. He brings along a certain mentality that we can use well here, comparable to what his fellow countryman Nico Tagliafico shows. And Lisandro is still young, so we expect that he will develop further into an even better player in the coming years.”
As for de Ligt well, he may be on his way out of the club but he has made it clear that he will always have a love for them, which he demonstrated so well in comments he made as the squad were given a heroes’ welcome by 100,000 fans in Amsterdam city centre last week after their title win.
He referenced the late, great Johan Cruyff when he said: “We’ve shown everyone what Ajax is about, what kind of city Amsterdam is. We have shown everyone what we stand for, and that is attacking football. We’ve shown everyone what the big man above us wanted to see and what he expected from us. We did it all together. Experienced players, youth players, everyone. And the supporters, we want to thank you for a fantastic season.”