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Tottenham Hotspur: Journalist identifies potential advantage Spurs may hold in race for centre-back

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Reporter Graeme Bailey has claimed on the Talking Transfers podcast that Tottenham Hotspur could well have an advantage when it comes to signing Ajax’s Lisandro Martinez – and it isn’t because they will be in the Champions League.

The versatile Argentinian is thought to be on the shortlist of his former manager Erik ten Hag at Manchester United (The Times), while according to The Athletic, Arsenal have already had a £26m bid rejected by the Dutch club, but Bailey is of the impression that Spurs may have the upper hand on their rivals.

A report from Bailey for 90min claimed that Tottenham were in the race to sign the 24-year-old, who can operate at centre-back, left-back or as a defensive midfielder, and with Ajax desperate to land Steven Bergwijn, a deal could work for each party with both players looking to leave their current clubs.

Would Martinez be a good signing for Spurs?

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He said: “The big thing with him is he does want to leave Ajax – we understand he’s told Ajax he wants to leave.

“He can play centre-half, he can play left-back, he can play holding midfield. So it’s not a surprise to see how many teams are in for him, and again, this may be a north London battle, because we’re hearing that Spurs like this guy a lot, and they do have a bit of a trump card possibly in the fact that Ajax really want Steven Bergwijn, so could Spurs offer him in exchange?”

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As a left-footer, Martinez could serve as a potential replacement for Ben Davies on the left of the three centre-back positions for Antonio Conte.

Across the past year, he ranks in the 99th percentile among players in his position in Europe’s top five leagues and major European competitions for both progressive passes and tackles per 90 minutes (as per FBRef). 

Last season, he made an average of 3.9 tackles and interceptions per game – more than three times the amount of Davies in both aspects, and won 69% of his individual duels (SofaScore) compared to the Welshman’s 54% – albeit in a less competitive Eredivisie.

Nonetheless, the potential to solve two problems at once could be an avenue that Spurs decide to take with Bergwijn playing a part in a move for the so-called “Butcher of Amsterdam.”

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