Over the years, Ajax have made a reputation for themselves as the “re-building” team that always rises from the ashes. Easily with one of the best scouting departments in Europe, the Godenzonen have made a name for themselves in building talent, selling them out to Europe’s top clubs and still finding a way to replace them in no time. One season that would have looked almost impossible to recover from was the club’s beautiful run last season.
Ajax’s run to the Champions League semi-finals was exciting to watch last season, as they overcame the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus. They stole many hearts all over Europe with their performances and the young side only narrowly missed out on the Champions League final.
At the same time, Erik ten Hag’s side claimed a first Eredivisie title in five years, coupling it with a KNVB Cup win, Netherlands’ first double since 2005 (Independent).
It capped off a wonderful rise for the Dutch club who had been looking some way off the giant side of the 1990s and early 2000s which won the 1994/95 Champions League.
After the good season came to an end, Ajax looked like they had a big replacement problem coming their way. The club lost key players in the name of Matthijs De Ligt, Frankie de Jong, Kasper Dolberg and Lasse Schone. While the departures of De Ligt and Frankie de Jong dominated the Ajax mainstay, it’s easy to reflect on why Lasse Schone’s departure went slightly unnoticed.
Indeed so, it is very easy to forget the 33-year-old’s contributions to one of Europe’s most famous clubs. It is also easy to just walk over Schone’s seven-year spell at Ajax. Or perhaps, that is what his career has been all about – working silently and unselfishly. However, it would appear Ajax might have acquired yet another silent performer in the name of Lisandro Martinez and the 21-year-old’s performances so far are surely a sign of good things to come for the future.
While the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Nicolas Tagliafico, Quincy Promes and Andre Onana dominate the Ajax headlines, one can’t undermine the performances of Lisandro Martinez and how the Argentine defender has been a key figure for Erik ten Hag since his move from Argentine club Defensa y Justicia in the summer.
In terms of minutes played so far, Lisandro Martinez’s 883 minutes means only four outfield players have seen more game time than the 21-year-old (Whoscored).
Going by defensive contributions and performances on the pitch, Martinez’s average of 1.9 tackles per 90 minutes means he has the fifth-highest tackles of all Ajax players so far. In terms of interceptions, he is setting the standard as his 1.8 interceptions per game means he has the highest so far in the Ajax squad and the closest to him is Joel Veltman and Nicolas Tagliafico tied at 1.1 interceptions per game (Whoscored).
Moving on to clearances made, Lisandro Martinez’s average of 2.6 blocks per game means he is joint-third with Daley Blind in that regard for the Ajax squad. Finally, in terms of blocks made, his average of 0.4 blocks per game means he is the fourth-highest for blocks in the Ajax squad with Nicolas Tagliafico and Daley Blind joint in third place with 0.5 blocks (Whoscored).
The fact that Martinez is in the top numbers for most defensive aspects shows how much of a key figure he has been already and in a matter of time he could well be a very influential figure in the Ajax ranks. Perhaps the numbers that highlight Lisandro Martinez’s output for Ajax so far is his rating amongst the first-team squad. The 21-year-old’s Whoscored rating of 7.74 so far means only the duo of Hakim Ziyech (8.26) and Dusan Tadic (8.14) have better ratings.
With consistent performances from the youngster in the next coming months, it’s expected for top clubs in Europe to do what they do best – come knocking on Ajax’s door for yet another promising starlet. With four years left on his contract (via Goal), Ajax secured themselves a proper defensive midfield signing that has surely made the departure of Lasse Schone easy to deal with.