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Lisandro Martinez: Manchester United confirm £56.7m signing of Ajax defender on five-year contract

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Manchester United have confirmed the £56.7m signing of Ajax defender Lisandro Martinez on a five-year contract.

United have paid a guaranteed €57.37m (£48.3m) for the Argentina international, with an additional €10m (£8.4m) in add-ons agreed between the two clubs. The move sees Martinez link up again with former Ajax manager Erik ten Hag, who signed him for the club in 2019, at Old Trafford.

The 24-year-old has put pen to paper on a five-year contract in Manchester, with the option of a further 12 months, which would take him beyond his 30th birthday.

“It’s an honour to join this great football club,” Martinez said. “I’ve worked so hard to get to this moment and now that I’m here I’m going to push myself even further.

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“I’ve been lucky enough to be part of successful teams in my career and that’s what I want to continue at Manchester United. There will be a lot of work to get to that moment, but I firmly believe that under this manager and coaches, and together with my new teammates, we can do it.

Martinez arrived at United’s Carrington training base on Tuesday alongside fellow new signing Christian Eriksen, who completed a free transfer earlier this month after his Brentford contract expired.

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Arsenal were also interested in the Argentina international, but conceded defeat in their pursuit. While the Gunners’ playing style, along with the prospect of playing for Mikel Arteta, appealed to Martinez, he has chosen to move to Old Trafford.

Around €2m (£1.7m) of Martinez’s fee will be split between his old clubs, Newell’s Old Boys and Defensa y Justicia, both based in Argentina, as part of the standard solidarity payments involved in international transfers.

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John Murtough, United’s Football Director, said of the club’s new signing: “Lisandro is an outstanding player who will bring further quality and experience to Erik’s squad.

“We are delighted that he has chosen to join Manchester United, and we are looking forward to seeing him develop further and help the team achieve the success we are aiming for.”

Why did Man Utd want Martinez?

“United have needed a left-sided centre-back and the manager wanted somebody who’s quite comfortable in possession.

“Under Ten Hag, United are going to have quite a proactive approach, build play from the back and he wanted to have a defender who is going to be an indirect threat at set pieces, confident and authoritative in the area.

“He knows Martinez quite well and feels that he fits the bill. He’s a defender comfortable defending in large spaces when the team pushes up.

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“He is going to be okay to cover ground on his own but also he can bring the ball out and form parts of attacks which is what Ten Hag wants. He feels this is money well spent for United.”

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Martinez offers brains, brawn and versatility

“Last season, Martinez averaged more passes per 90 minutes than any other Eredivisie player, while only two players directed more passes forward per 90 minutes.

“Those numbers underline Martinez’s ability to play through opposition lines but he is similarly adept at switching the play and picking out team-mates over longer distances. At Ajax last season, no player averaged more successful long passes per 90 minutes.

“Voted Ajax’s player of the year for his role in their Eredivisie title triumph last season, Martinez stands at just 5ft 9ins, making him small for a centre-back.

“Last season at Ajax, he made more headed clearances (29) than any other player and won 79 of his 112 aerial duels, giving him a success rate of 71 per cent and putting him second only to Harry Maguire among Manchester United and Arsenal’s current centre-backs.

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“Martinez can expect to face more exacting opponents in the Premier League, of course, but he is also helped by a sound reading of the game. He is known for anticipating strikers’ runs and positioning himself smartly to make tackles and interceptions.

“Those qualities, coupled with his versatility and technical prowess, made him all the more alluring to Premier League suitors.”

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BREAKING: Bayern Munich to part ways with Tuchel

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German giants Bayern Munich will be parting ways with its manager, Thomas Tuchel, at the end of the season, Sky Germany reports.

Theheute reports that Tuchel will leave Bayern after both sides had “fair and positive discussions” and came to an agreement.

An official announcement is set to be made in the coming days by Bayern.

The Bundesliga champions have also reportedly started a search for a new coach with Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp among the top contenders.

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Details later…

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Osimhen May Miss Napoli’s Champions League Clash with Barcelona

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Napoli could be without Victor Osimhen when they host Barcelona in the Champions League last 16 after the striker missed their last-gasp 1-1 home draw with Genoa in Serie A yesterday due to fatigue.

Osimhen returned to his Italian club after helping Nigeria reach the Africa Cup of Nations final which they lost 2-1 to hosts Côte d’Ivoire last Sunday.

“According to him and the doctors, the boy is at his lowest,” coach Walter Mazzarri told DAZN.

“Coming back from the Africa Cup of Nations it wouldn’t have been the best choice to risk it and let him play for a quarter of an hour to 20 minutes, so the doctor told me.”

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The tournament took its toll on Osimhen, who suffered stomach pains ahead of the semi-final against South Africa and was only cleared to play the day before the match.

The 25-year-old scored one goal in the tournament but his performances played an important role as Nigeria reached the final for the eighth time.

“Today (Saturday) he had an anti-fatigue training, tomorrow (Sunday) he will train. We hope to have him ready for Barcelona (but) his presence will not be certain,” Mazzarri said.

“Since I arrived I’ve never had him. He was injured, I had to recover him gradually. Then there was the Africa Cup of Nations,” the Napoli gaffer concluded.

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Sports Betting: House of Reps want awareness on negative impact of gambling

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Leading the debate on the motion titled ‘Need to curtail the dangerous effects of sports betting and direct the National Lottery Regulatory Commission to comply with the Lottery Regulatory Commission Act, 2005,’ in a session presided over by the Speaker Tajudden Abbas, Kelechi noted that “sports betting is expanding like wildfire globally, including Nigeria, which has growing betting outfits such as Naira Bet, Bet9ja, Sure Bet, Winners Golden Bet Max Bet, Merry Bet, 1960 Bet, Bet Colony, Stakers Den, Bet 360, Bet 365, Apollo Bet, etc,” noting that “approximately 60 million Nigerians aged 18 to 40 are engaged in sports betting.”

He further stated that the House is “aware that the National Lottery Act, 2005, provides for the establishment of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission and the National Lottery Trust Fund and is intended to ensure the fair operation and protection of players, stakeholders, and the public.

How to Set the Right Mood for Playing Online Casino Games

“The House is aware that Section 2 of the regulations stipulates that a licensee, appointed agents, franchisees, or operators shall adhere strictly to government policies on social responsibility in designing, advertising, and marketing.

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“The House is worried that weak or neglected regulations of sports betting have dangerously led to mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, or addiction; strained or broken relationships due to lying or stealing from friends and family; financial problems, legal issues, and job loss due to excessive loss or debt; increased crime rates; and eventually committing suicide,” stressing that “most players prefer betting through their mobile phones instead of visiting retail outlets in order to evade control and regulations.”

He also opined that if sports betting is properly regulated and supervised, “it will generate tax revenue for the government and contribute to economic growth.”

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The House adopted the motion, urging the Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation to implement comprehensive nationwide campaigns to raise public awareness about the negative consequences of youth engagement in sports betting.

It also directed its Committee on Inter-Governmental Affairs to hold a public hearing on the dangers and benefits of sports betting in Nigeria and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.

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