Erik ten Hag reveals top Man Utd summer signing begged for move after Arsenal switch was already agreed

Erik ten Hag has revealed that a top Manchester United summer signing virtually begged to move to Old Trafford otherwise it would have meant joining Arsenal.

Lisandro Martinez initiated his transfer to Old Trafford in the summer window after seemingly urging his old Ajax boss to hijack the Gunners’ move for his services.

The Argentina international, who claimed World Cup glory on Sunday, joined the Red Devils for the Dutch giants in a £57 million deal in July.

However, prior to his move to Manchester, it was Arsenal who were the top contenders for his signature. Indeed, Mikel Arteta had plans to use Martinez as a left-back who could also fill in centrally if needed.

Talks for the 24-year-old were said to have been at an advanced stage before Ten Hag jumped on the phone and asked Martinez to ignore the lure of the capital and head to Salford instead.

Speaking in a special interview for the Christmas edition of Dutch publication Voetbal InternationalTen Hag how the revealed Martinez deal actually went down.

The Dutchman said: “It was Martinez himself who wanted to leave Ajax.

“If we had not taken him, he would have gone to Arsenal. They wanted him anyway; he was their number one priority there.

“Licha [Martinez] called me at one point and said, ‘Boss, listen, I’m leaving Ajax anyway. I can sign with Arsenal but if you want me I’ll come to Manchester United!’

So then I thought that I shouldn’t shoot myself in the foot, or United either.

“He really wasn’t going to stay in Amsterdam, that was out of the question. So then we struck [a deal] and everything worked out.”

Martinez is a critical performer for Ten Hag

Ten Hag also reflected on his time working with Martinez in Holland, adding: “I had such a good time at Ajax and we experienced that process together. We brought Ajax back to the top of Europe from scratch. That project has been so dear to me.”

The news of Arsenal’s interest isn’t exactly new. Indeed, their chief executive Edwin van der Sar admitted as much earlier in the year.

The former United No. 1 said: “Arsenal came earlier for Lisandro, but it was an amount where we said, ‘Thank you very much for the offer, but we’d rather keep the player than start negotiating.’

With United, it was a little bit different. Over the years we have had a few conversations: Daley Blind, Donny van de Beek. My job is making sure I make the best decisions for Ajax.”

Martinez has so far proved a big hit at Old Trafford, despite getting off to a rough start.

He is one of the first names on Ten Hag’s teamsheet and has beaten out the likes of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof for a regular starting spot alongside the when-fit Raphael Varane.

READ MORE: Man Utd target ‘dreams’ of Old Trafford move, gifting Ten Hag advantage over two Euro giants in race


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