The 24-year-old Argentine, who joined United from Ajax in the summer for £56.7m, won all of his aerial duels against Saints on Saturday – more than any other player on the pitch.
He also recorded 61 touches, 48 assists and seven clearances as Erik ten Hag’s side kept a clean sheet at St Mary’s.
Aerial duels in the Premier League:
Lisandro Martinez – 83%
Kalidou Koulibaly – 75%
Guillaume Saliba – 57%
Joe Gomez- 56%
Ruben Dias – 36%
Too small? 😂 pic.twitter.com/4Ey9y0YbRn
– United Zone (@ManUnitedZone_) August 27, 2022
Ever since his arrival, Martinez’s 5ft 9ft frame has raised eyebrows. Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher said after their win over Liverpool that the size of the centre-back will be “an issue” for United in the coming months.
And on Monday afternoon, another former Liverpool player – Graeme Souness – believes Martinez will finally be discovered.
“I was watching the game at the weekend and they were putting Che Adams against him, and the goalkeeper and other members of the Southampton squad were charging him down that left side, they were trying to stick him on his head,” said Souness.
“He is vertically challenged and I was racking my brains to find someone who has played in the Premier League, or even the Premier League, of that size and been successful. I think he will be tested hard and that it will be discovered in the future.”
A member of the talkSPORT team then brought up the idea of Martinez coming up against Erling Haaland, Darwin Nunez and Aleksandar Mitrovic.
“Oh, my God, it will be a mismatch,” Souness said. “He’s not particularly special at anything. I would say he’s fiery and aggressive.
“The other thing I don’t like about him: he goes to the ground too easily. Not a good sign for a defender. The smart ones stay up and they read it, they anticipate it. If you’re rushing all the time, that means you’re not reading it.
“I come back to his size, he will be discovered in the Premier League. I can’t tell you that anyone else that size has made it in our game. Ultimately, you’re discovered.
“If I am [Virgil] van Dijk, I will stand next to him. People will target him. Che Adams dropped it on his chest.
Here’s the full video of Souness talking about Lisandro Martinez after United’s recent win at St Mary’s. Do you agree?
👎 “I think Martinez will be put to the test and will be discovered in PL.”
❌ “He’s nothing special!”
🤦♂️ “Martinez goes to the ground too easily, smart defenders stay up.”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) August 29, 2022
This isn’t the first time Souness has faced Martinez since joining in the summer.
After the club’s embarrassing 4-0 loss to Brentford earlier this month, the former Liverpool man didn’t hesitate.
“I mean, 5-foot-9 Lisandro Martinez at center back? Ivan Toney must have looked at him during the warm-up and thought, ‘I’m going to have a good day today.’ And he did. “said Souness in his Daily Mail column.
“I’m afraid Martinez will struggle in the Premier League because of his height. But he’s Ten Hag’s big signing from Ajax and he won’t give it up.
“I’ve read that Martinez can also play as a midfielder, and he could end up there, especially as United are crying out for quality in that area. At least he looks combative. “
Souness isn’t the only former player to worry about Martinez’s physique.
Despite a strong performance against Southampton, talkSPORT guest Gabriel Agbonlahor raised concerns after the full-time whistle.
“When the ball was on the ground and the ball was played, he did well,” said Agbonlahor.
“But every time the ball was played in the air, Che Adams had the best of him. Physically he kept guessing trying to get past and Che Adams would turn him.
“But he won his fair share of headers today and it’s a clean sheet, it’s hard to judge him but I feel when there are physical attackers starting to play against him.”
The former Aston Villa striker added: “I don’t judge [Roberto] Firmino who kept falling Monday night. I judge real attackers who go back on him and try to intimidate him and today Che Adams did a decent job.
“There were times when Che Adams put the ball in his body and he just got it under control, so I look at him and I think when he plays against Nunez, Haaland, those kind of physical strikers, I think that he will have trouble.
“He’s going to need Varane’s help or they’re going to end up playing three at the back and bringing in Maguire.
“But you know, clean sheet, you can’t complain.”
💪 “Whenever the ball was in the air, Adams had the best of him.”
😳 “When he plays against Nunez & Haaland, I think he will struggle.”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) August 27, 2022
Any thoughts on Souness’ comments about Martinez?
Let us know in the comments.
Graeme Souness’ comments on Lisandro Martinez after Southampton win make no sense