Patrice Evra takes swipe at Per Mertesacker and hails Man Utd's 'new Michael Carrick'
Patrice Evra has taken a surprise dig at Per Mertesacker for his playing style whilst hailing the arrival of Lisandro Martinez.
The former Manchester United defender has been hugely impressed by Erik ten Hag's summer signing - who did cop his fair share of criticism when he was purchased from Ajax. Martinez's lack of height was cited as a problem due to the physicality in the Premier League.
However he's slotted straight into the starting XI - dislodging skipper Harry Maguire as a result. The Argentine has since formed a partnership with Raphael Varane and earned plaudits for his style. Martinez's ball-playing ability is seen as a major plus and Evra has been impressed by his ambition.
The Frenchman referenced former Arsenal centre-half Mertesacker, who was renowned for his ball retention. Evra though felt that the German never passed the ball more than one metre, adding "I can do that every day".
He said on the Vibe with Five YouTube channel : "This is one of the best signings we’ve had for years at Manchester United. It’s because of his fighting spirit. That’s what United fans want to see – those players have to bleed for the shirt. People were talking about his height and I was laughing. Some people said I was too small when I arrived in the Premier League as well. When you play with that heart and passion, size doesn’t matter.
"When he gets the ball, he is so clean and composed. Mexico were pressing everywhere [in the World Cup Group C game] but every time he got the ball he was calm and playing forward. That’s what I love. He doesn’t play those one-metre balls to the next player. This is easy.
Lisandro Martinez has slotted straight into the Man Utd defence
(Image: Leila Coker/AP/REX/Shutterstock)
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"When I see those stats – I remember Mertesacker at Arsenal, the stats said he never lost the ball – but he was passing it one metre, I can do that every day. But Martinez puts the ball through the lines like Michael Carrick. That’s what he does and I love that. What a player, what a player."
Rio Ferdinand, who played alongside Evra in a hugely successful back four that claimed the Champions League in 2008, spoke to former colleague Edwin Van der Sar about Martinez before he arrived and received strong feedback.
"All the other aspects of his game are great," he said. "I remember speaking to Edwin van der Sar and other people at Ajax about him and they all said he was aggressive and tenacious but also great on the ball and can pass. Top defenders now need to have both sides of the game."