Manchester United have made a £39.6million bid for Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez.
The Reds are looking to blow Arsenal out of the running for the Argentine international by offering the Dutch club a deal close to their £43million valuation. United have told Ajax they will pay £35.3million up front, with a package of add-ons worth a further £4.3million – and the extra payments are guaranteed.
The Gunners have seen a £34million bid rejected – and are now weighing up their options. But new United boss Erik ten Hag has identified Martinez as the man to put some steel into his team. And now the Old Trafford club have moved decisively after weeks of bartering with Barcelona over the payment terms of a £70million deal for Frenkie de Jong.
United, who are also closing in on Feyenoord full-back Tyrell Malacia after lodging a £13million move, want to arm Ten Hag with as many new recruits as possible before they jet out on their pre-season tour of Australia and Thailand next week.
Ajax do not want to sell Martinez after seeing Ten Hag depart for Manchester to become United boss. They had hoped their valuation would scare off potential bidders.
But United have now made their move – and unless Arsenal come back with a counter-offer to spark a genuine bidding war, then it seems the 24-year-old will be following his former coach to Old Trafford.
Martinez has told Ajax that he wants to be allowed to move to England. He sees it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and believes his tough-tackling style will suit the Premier League perfectly.
Martinez is only 5ft 9ins tall but is a ferocious competitor. Ten Hag feels he will bring attitude as well as application to a squad that under-achieved bandy last season.