Ajax make stance clear on Martinez as Arsenal hope to pip Man Utd to £30m deal
Ajax are reportedly refusing to sanction a sale of star defender Lisandro Martinez, with Arsenal having already seen a bid rejected.
Martinez has become Mikel Arteta 's top target in defence as he bids to boost his options in his backline. The Gunners had a solid defence last term, though they did concede more goals than any other team who finished in the top five of the Premier League.
That has convinced Arteta of the need to reinforce his defensive department, despite the impressive partnership formed by Ben White and Gabriel last season. Having won Ajax 's Player of the Year award last term, Martinez is now the top target to provide that alternative option.
Arteta is pushing to make Martinez what would be his third signing of the summer, following the arrival of Marquinhos and the impending deal for Fabio Vieira. But reaching an agreement with Ajax may be harder to come by than first thought.
According to TyC Sports, the Eredivisie champions have already rejected a £25.7m bid from Arsenal for the Argentine international. That has not deterred the Gunners though who will continue to bid for him.
They will face a challenge to tempt Ajax into selling him though, with the Dutch giants 'firm in retaining him'. There is also no release clause in his contract, meaning that Arsenal will have to submit a bid that is too good to turn down.
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According to the Daily Mail, Ajax are prepared to hold out for a high fee as they are aware of interest from other clubs. One of those is Barcelona, though the La Liga giants are said to have 'other priorities' amid their continuing financial problems.
More interest could come from Manchester United, who's new boss Erik ten Hag has brought Martinez to Ajax. Like Arteta, Ten Hag is also keen to boost his defensive options and has previously hailed both Martinez and fellow Ajax team-mate Jurrien Timber.
"They are doing extremely well, that's clear. But they don't do it alone: we defend with eleven. There is a lot of work in our defensive actions and in the good organization. Everyone knows what to do. I think that makes it very difficult to play opportunities against us. We defend exceptionally strong," he said in February.
"They understand each other well. There is leadership in it and they both have very good anticipation skills. They are also both good on the ball, reasonable to very fast, strong in the duels, aggressive. They are two great guys."
Ten Hag is still yet to make his first signing of the summer window, with Arsenal having already made two additions to Arteta's squad. And the Gunners are understood to be hopeful that they can cause the United boss more frustration with a move for Martinez.
They submitted an improved bid for the Argentine international on Saturday for £30m and are now awaiting a response from Ajax. Whether the new bid will be enough for the Dutch side to let Martinez depart remains to be seen.