Arsenal were frontrunners in the race to sign Lisandro Martinez prior to Manchester United's interest in the Ajax defender. The Red Devils' willingness to submit to the Dutch club's demands saw the Gunners walk away as they did not see value in paying over the odds.

Mikel Arteta wanted to sign a versatile defender, who could not only provide cover at the heart of Arsenal's defense, but also at left-back and central midfield. Martinez proved with Ajax last season that he can be adept at all three positions, playing a key role in helping them clinch the Eredivisie title.

Arsenal registered their interest ahead of other suitors and even had two bids rejected by the Eredivisie champions. The initial asking price was set at £43 million, but it quickly escalated after the 20-time English champions made the Argentina international a priority target.

Lisandro Martinez
Manchester United met Ajax's £57 million asking price to sign Lisandro Martinez (R). ANP SPORT / Maurice van STEEN

Erik ten Hag wanted a reunion with his former player at Old Trafford and instructed the club to bring Martinez to Manchester whatever the cost. Arsenal remained in the race until the bidding was at £40 million, but quickly moved on after it became clear that Ajax were pining for a bidding war between the two Premier League big guns.

Arteta was looking at Martinez as cover for Kieran Tierney at left-back and to compete with left centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes. The north London club was unwilling to spend excessively for a player not guaranteed to start on a regular basis.

"As soon as Manchester United were in the equation, they went up to a level of finance Arsenal just weren't prepared to meet. They didn't think that was value for money they were looking for, for a player looking to compete with Tierney," The Athletic's David Ornstein said.

United continued their pursuit despite Ajax's increasing demands and finally announced his arrival on Monday. The Red Devils will pay the Dutch giants a guaranteed fee of £48.5 million with a further £8.5 million in add-ons, which is a far cry from the fixed £43 million fee Ajax were initially demanding.

Arsenal, meanwhile, returned to their first target Oleksandr Zinchenko, and have agreed a fee with Manchester City for the Ukraine international. The 25-year-old can provide cover at left-back and in central midfield, and cost the Gunners £32 million including addons.

Oleksandr Zinchenko of Ukraine
Oleksandr Zinchenko fired Ukraine into the lead against Sweden Photo: POOL / ANDY BUCHANAN