Erik ten Hag has revealed that Lisandro Martinez called him insisting he would turn down an offer from Arsenal if Manchester United made a rival offer to sign him back in the summer.
The Dutch coach joined United as a permanent successor to Ralf Rangnick for the 2022/23 season and made five signings during his first transfer window.
United’s third incoming saw Ten Hag reunite with Martinez having coached him at Ajax, but there was plenty of interest in the Argentine’s services.
90min reported in June that Arsenal were ahead of United and several other Premier League rivals in the race to sign Martinez.
Speaking to Voetbal International, Ten Hag opened up on the transfer saga.
“I had such a great time [at Ajax], the way we built a project. Out of nowhere, we brought Ajax back to European top level. But Martinez himself wanted to leave. If we didn’t take him, he would have gone to Arsenal,” Ten Hag said.
“At a certain point, Licha called me up and said: ‘Coach, listen, I will leave Ajax no matter what. I can sign for Arsenal, but if you want me, I will go to Manchester United’.
“Then I thought: I shouldn’t shoot myself and United in the foot either. There was no way he would have stayed in Amsterdam, which was out of the question.”
Martinez ended up signing for United for a fee that could total just shy of £60m.
Though there were some initial fears that his 5ft9 stature could make him an easy target for Premier League strikers, Martinez has recovered well from some poor performances at the start of the season and has established himself as one of the division’s leading centre-back.