Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has revealed how the Red Devils beat Arsenal to the signing of Lisandro Martinez from Ajax last summer. It took just a phone call for the Argentina international to choose a move to Old Trafford over the Emirates Stadium.

Mikel Arteta had made signing a left-sided defender a priority last summer and and Martinez was his top target. The Gunners were the first club to approach Ajax to sign the 2022 World Cup winner following his impressive showing for the Eredivisie club.

Arsenal made an initial bid of around £29 million for Martinez, which was outrightly rejected by the Dutch outfit. Arsenal returned with an improved £35 million offer, which was also rebuffed. It was then that United made their move with newly appointed former Ajax boss Ten Hag keen to reunite with the player at Old Trafford.

"Whether I found it difficult to get Martinez away from Ajax? Ten Hag responded when asked about Martinez's move last summer.

"I had such a good time there, how we experienced the process together," he told Voetbal International. "From scratch we brought Ajax back to the European top. That project has been so dear to me."

Lisandro Martinez
Lisandro Martinez joined Manchester United after rejecting an offer from Arsenal ANP SPORT / Maurice van STEEN

Martinez had decided that he was ready for a new challenge and requested Ajax to let him leave.

Even the Manchester club had a number of offers rejected by Ajax, before finally reaching an agreement over an initial £51 million fee with a further £5 million in add-ons. Ten Hag explained how, during a phone call, Martinez told him about his desire to leave, and United being his first preference.

"They wanted him anyway, he was top priority there. Licha (Martinez) called me at one point: 'Coach, listen, I'm leaving Ajax anyway. I can sign with Arsenal, but if you want me, I'm going to Manchester United'," Ten Hag added.

After losing out on Martinez, Arsenal signed Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko, who has made an impressive start to life in North London. Similarly, after an initial wobble, Martinez has proven to be a shrewd acquisition, and looks well suited to the rigours of the Premier League.

Mikel Arteta
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta lambasted his side's performance at Newcastle AFP / Oli SCARFF