Arsenal decide new defensive target after Lisandro Martinez snub | Football

Arsenal decide new defensive target after Lisandro Martinez snub | Football
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Arsenal decide new defensive target after giving up on Lisandro Martinez

The Argentine is closing in on a move to Manchester United (Pictures: Getty)

Arsenal have cooled their interest in Ajax star Lisandro Martinez – who is closing in on a move to Manchester United – and have identified a new defensive target, according to reports.

The Gunners had submitted several offers to the Eredivisie champions for their Player of the Year, with manager Mikel Arteta having viewed the Argentine as an ideal fit for his squad.

Arsenal’s plan was to use Martinez as a left-back despite the majority of his performances for Ajax having been at centre-back, while he also offered cover in defensive midfield.

That versatility was a massive attraction for Arteta, though he was predominantly seen as a player who could provide cover and competition for the injury-prone Kieran Tierney.

Last season, Nuno Tavares often struggled when called upon and was notably hauled off after just 33 minutes against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup.

Arsenal had been battling it out with United to land Martinez but the 24-year-old would prefer to work under old boss Erik ten Hag again, while the Red Devils were also prepared to offer a bigger transfer fee.

That has meant Arsenal have needed to go back to the drawing board to find a new defensive target and the Daily Mail claim they have now turned their attention to Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykola Matviyenko.

Arsenal target Shakhtar's Mykola Matviyenko

Arsenal and Ajax are both looking at Matviyenko (Picture: Getty)

The Ukraine international will cost considerably less than Martinez – with Ajax having rejected a £38million offer from Arsenal – and is more used to playing at left-back.

Matvieynko is also capable of playing as a centre-back, where he has lined up most regularly for the national team with Everton’s Vitaliy Mykolenko the first-choice left-back.

Ironically, Arsenal will face significant competition from Ajax, with director Klaus-Jan Huntelaar having already met the Ukrainian’s agent as they look for a replacement for Martinez.

Shakhtar are expected to demand around £12.6m for the 26-year-old – but he is not the only option on Arsenal’s radar.

The Gunners were previously linked with a move for another Ukrainian, Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko, and could re-explore that deal now a move for Martinez appears to have collapsed.

Again, Arteta was attracted to Zinchenko’s ability to play at both left-back and in midfield, providing cover in multiple positions.

Another player who has been linked with a move to the Emirates is Benfica’s Alex Grimaldo – who is more of an out-and-out left-back – though the club’s president, Rui Costa, played down the speculation recently.


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