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Lisandro Martinez is one of the world’s five best centre-backs, says Pep Guardiola

Lisandro Martinez is one of the world’s five best centre-backs, says Pep Guardiola
Lisandro Martinez is one of the world’s five best centre-backs, says Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola was full of praise for Lisandro Martinez after his side’s FA Cup final defeat. 

Manchester City missed out on the chance of history at Wembley after rivals Manchester United stopped them becoming the first ever side to do the double in back-to-back Premier League campaigns.

First half goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo ensured the FA Cup went home with the Red side of Manchester for the 13th time in the competition’s history despite Jeremy Doku’s late strike. It meant that after their treble winning campaign last season, Manchester City would have to make do with just one record in 2023/24 as they became the first ever side to win the Premier League title in four consecutive seasons.

A host of Manchester United players put in impressive performances at Wembley, including Andre Onana, who made some crucial saves, Bruno Fernandes, who created five chances and provided an assist, Kobbie Mainoo, who was named POTM and Sofyan Amrabat, who was best to his destructive best. But it was Lisandro Martinez who Pep Guardiola singled out in his post-match interview.

“Lisandro Martinez is top five centre-backs in the world,” the Spaniard said after the game.

“He made the difference on this game by playing passes through our defence.”

The Argentinian has missed huge chunks of this season through various injuries, but it is clear that Manchester United are a much, much better team when ‘the Butcher’ is in the side. The World Cup winner has made just 14 appearances across all competitions in 2023/24, including 11 in the Premier League and the stark difference in United’s defensive numbers is incredible, despite the small sample size.

The Red Devils have conceded on average 10.6 more shots per game in the Premier League this season without the Argentine in the side compared to when he has featured, which is a staggering difference. Erik ten Hag’s side have also conceded fewer goals per game, conceded over 1 expected goals on target fewer per game and won 10.1% more of their matches in 11 matches with the World Cup winner than without him, so it’s no surprise than Erik ten Hag has put some of United’s failures this season to being without Martinez for so much of the season.

The 26-year-old has had various different injuries across the campaign and it comes to no surprise that it’s taken its toll him.

“For me it was a really, really tough season.” he said after the game.

“You know, my injuries, and it’s all new for me, I’ve never been injured [before]. In the foot, in the knee, in the calf as well! It was like, “Is this a dream or what?”.

“And now I’m really strong, mentally and physically. Today, for sure, because I played only against Newcastle, Brighton and now the final, I felt cramp in my legs so I couldn’t finish the game. “That’s why I was unhappy, but I knew I have team-mates behind me and they gave everything.”