Some nicknames just speak for themselves.
Take newly-signed Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez. The versatile, no-nonsense Argentine defender earned the nickname “The Butcher of Amsterdam” for his brutally physical style of play while starring at Ajax for the past three seasons. He’s also comfortable in Erik ten Hag’s system, which explains why United was willing to pay a minimum of £55 million to relocate the Butcher from Amsterdam to Manchester.
There are definitely some potential red flags, though. For one thing, he’s only 5’9’’, which would make him the shortest center back in the Premier League. For reference, Gary Neville was deemed “too short” to play center half, and he was listed at 5’11’’.
He’ll also have to make due with being ten Hag’s backup plan. According to reports, United had made a play for Martinez’s partner in central defense at Ajax, Jurrien Timber, only for Netherlands manager and ex-United gaffer Louis van Gaal to get some belated revenge on his old team and convince the young Dutch defender to stay put. Best served cold, indeed.
And, while Martinez can play in midfield and as a fullback, this invites potentially unflattering comparisons to another former United player that came via Ajax: Daley Blind. The similarly versatile and vertically challenged Blind (although it’s worth pointing out that he is two inches taller than Martinez) was somewhat under-appreciated during his time at United. Nevertheless, he was sent packing back to Ajax and was seen as not physically talented enough to play in the Premiership — Ed Woodward even pointed to Blind as the reason why he became reluctant to sign players from the Eredivisie.
Hopefully, Martinez will show that his pace, skill, ability to read the game, and willingness to play physically will allow him to thrive in the Premier League. Indeed, he demonstrated his outstanding one-on-one skills last season, neutralizing two top strikers that have, since, gone to Man City and Liverpool, respectively: Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez. Clearly size isn’t everything.
At least, let’s hope that’s the case. Otherwise, they’ll be looking for other, less flattering nicknames for Lisandro Martinez (The Napoleon of Manchester, The Chihuahua of Manchester, Half Manchester…).