Ajax rebuffed Arsenal’s attempts to sign Lisandro Martinez over the summer, the Eredivisie side’s CEO Edwin van der Sar claimed.
Martinez joined Manchester United from Ajax for a reported £47million in July and has since become a key player at the heart of Eric Ten Hag’s defence.
But before the Argentinian international secured his Old Trafford switch, he was the subject of heavy interest from Arsenal.
According to Ajax CEO and former Manchester United goalkeeper van der Sar, the Gunners did try to sign Martinez over the summer, but their attempts were met with a “firm no”
Speaking to the Times, van der Sar said: “It was our opinion that [Lisandro Martinez and Antony] should stay for another year.
“We gave a firm ‘no’ to Arsenal when they came first for Lisandro; we fought hard to keep him.”
Ultimately Manchester United’s offer, which could reportedly rise up to £55million, was enough to prize the diminutive centre-back away from Amsterdam.
Martinez, who was nicknamed “the butcher” by Ajax fans on account of his fiery and physical approach to defending, endured a torrid start to life at Old Trafford.
The centre-back was questioned by swathes of the media over his lack of physicality (he’s only 5 ft 8 inches) and was hooked at half-time by Ten Hag during Man Utd’s 4-0 defeat to Brentford, having been bullied by Bees striker Ivan Toney.
Yet just 15 games into his Old Trafford career Martinez has become one of Ten Hag’s main lieutenants and has been the subject of praise from his teammates.
Last week Man Utd left back Luke Shaw told The National: “You can see everyone loves him. The fans love him and his left foot is unbelievable.
I think it always helps when you play with a left-footer on the side because he naturally likes to come out to that side and I think he has fitted in really well.
“Of course, he can keep getting better and better, but for me so far, he has been unbelievable this season. He needs to keep that up.
“His aggression, his passion, we need him in that backline. He brings that every game. I am really pleased to have him in the team.”