Former Liverpool player Graeme Souness spent the start of this season dissecting Manchester United’s transfer business, with Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro among the players to receive staunch criticism.
Martinez was the target of several high-profile pundits just weeks after the Argentine had made his Premier League bow, with experts claiming he was too small to play at centre-back.
Jamie Carragher, another former Liverpool ace, was heavily critical of Martinez after the first two games of the season, claiming Martinez would not succeed due to his height.
Souness, who has a history of agendas against United players, made the bold prediction that Martinez would get ‘found out’ in the Premier League.
Now, speaking before United make the trip to Anfield with a 10-point lead over their bitter rivals, Souness has backtracked on his early-season comments, admitting he was wrong about the centre-back.
“I think Martinez is one of those players who, if you are playing against him, would annoy the life out of you,” Souness is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
“He’s a feisty so-and-so, isn’t he? ‘Argument in an empty house’ comes to mind — he would have an argument with himself, looking in the mirror!
“But team-mates react to that. I thought he would be exposed when he arrived at United because of his size and relative lack of pace. I have to hold my hands up there.
“But he obviously has a real football brain and that ‘lead from the front’ mentality. You can see it in him. Everyone on the pitch, he wants to have an argument with. I love to see that. Casemiro’s got a bit of it in him, too.
“They’re the ones who can carry the flag. And then, behind them, you’ve got others suddenly ready to stand up and be counted. I like the way Erik ten Hag has reinstated discipline. These are the kinds of qualities I always remember when we went up against each other for Liverpool and United.”
Martinez will go down as one of this season’s best signings in the Premier League. Undeniably, he is already among the elite defenders in Europe.
Alongside Raphael Varane, he is one half of a seemingly unbreakable wall and Ten Hag deserves credit for bringing the defender with him to Old Trafford.
At 25, he also has the best years of his career ahead of him and that bodes well for United. At this rate, he is setting himself up to become a modern-day hero.