Ghana's No. 1

Man United great Stam responds to pundits who criticised Martinez's height

Published on: 28 September 2022

Manchester United's Jaap Stam has admitted he knew that Lisandro Martinez's height would be a talking point this summer.

United were criticised for signing Lisandro Martinez from Ajax in July for a fee of £46.8million, rising to £55.3m, on a five-year contract, with pundits suggesting he was not tall enough to succeed in the physically demanding Premier League.

Martinez stands at 5ft 9ins, which makes him the smallest centre-back in the Premier League, but that has not stopped him from making an impressive start to his career in Manchester, which has already made him a favourite among supporters.

Stam established himself as one of Europe's most exciting centre-backs while playing in the Eredivisie before his transfer to United in 1998 and he regularly watched Martinez play for Ajax during the three years he spent with Erik ten Hag in Amsterdam.

After Martinez signed for United this summer, Stam knew that his height would be a talking point, but he explained that it shouldn't be an issue because the Argentine has been brought to the club to help implement Ten Hag's style of play.

"That was an easy one, the day when he signed for United, I had already said they will talk about his height," Stam told the Manchester Evening News. "Over here [England], everyone thinks as a centre-back you need to be big and tall, otherwise you won’t make it.

"The thing is, you need to look at the big picture of how the manager wants to play because that’s the most important thing. He wants to play dominating football, meaning you need to have players at the back who are comfortable on the ball.

"Of course, sometimes he’s going to get surprised, but that’s what also happens with big players - they make mistakes as well. Martinez shows his quality on the ball, he shows his quality when defending and his communication around him is good.

"He just needs to keep going."


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