Both of the Premier League rivals are understood to have made multiple offers for the Argentine defender, with United this week submitting a bid in the region of £40million. The ball is now in Ajax’s court to see if they accept that, though Arsenal could of course look to gazump the Red Devils with a fresh move of their own.
It is perhaps slightly perplexing that Arsenal are looking to bring in a new centre-back, given the successful partnership that was formed by Ben White and Gabriel last season. The duo were solid at the heart of the Gunners’ defence and it would be a strange move to split them up.
That is precisely the reason that former Ajax star Marciano Vink highlighted when he encouraged Arsenal to curtail their interest in Martinez. Vink insisted that Martinez would only be a bench player, at least at the start of his Arsenal career.
“Martinez is a very good and tough defender, he also shows it in the Argentine team. I think the system and the way in which Ajax played and the combination with [Jurrien] Timber made him an even better player. They are two pitbulls standing there,” he told Voetbalpraat last month.
“He has a very good pass and creates a good build-up. He sees the game well. I only wonder if he is really suitable to play in England. I’d rather see him in the Spanish league. I think that suits him better.
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“You never know, of course, but if there are so many economic gains to be made, Ajax should always focus on the next one. I think €40m should definitely be negotiable. I think White is good, and Gabriel is still a bit unpolished. Neither of them are brilliant builders.
“He would be brought in for the position of left central defender, and I don’t think they’ll take Gabriel out at Arsenal just like that. If they get Martinez, I think they’ll get him for the bench. As a back-up.”
It will likely now take a bid in excess of £40m to win the race for Martinez, given United’s latest bid. Spending that amount of money on a player only likely to feature on the bench for a substantial period would be seen as lunacy by many.
With White and Gabriel having formed such a successful partnership, as well as William Saliba returning to the fold, it is hard to see a need for Martinez. That contrasts sharply with Mikel Arteta’s midfield options, which still appear to be underweight.
Any fresh attempt to beat United to the signing of Martinez would seem to be a mistake given those circumstances. Arsenal have then been handed all the reasons they need to row themselves back from entering a bidding war for the Ajax man.