Arsenal fear Man Utd will sign Lisandro Martinez after giving up on Jurrien Timber

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Arsenal are concerned Manchester United will thwart their interest in Ajax centre-back Lisandro Martinez by reuniting him with Erik ten Hag this summer. United have switched their focus towards Martinez after missing out on his teammate Jurrien Timber due to reservations over game time ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Netherlands manager and former Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal warned Timber about his World Cup hopes if he sacrifices guaranteed minutes for a big move to Old Trafford this summer. And the 21-year-old has decided to follow his advice and avoid taking the risk at this stage of his career, denying Ten Hag his priority defensive target.

But he also wants to bring Martinez to the Premier League with him as an alternative, and the Dutchman’s interest could be fatal to Mikel Arteta’s summer plans, the Mirror report. The 24-year-old, who can also play as a left-back and defensive midfielder, regularly featured under Ten Hag across three seasons at Ajax.

Arsenal saw a £25million bid rejected last week and are now somewhat resigned to losing Arteta’s top defensive target to their top-four rivals. United will be confident of luring Martinez to M16 alongside the potential midfield additions of Frenkie de Jong and Christian Eriksen.

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The Red Devils’ long-winded pursuit of De Jong has held up other deals, with Ten Hag’s budget understood to be limited to around £120m. Barcelona rejected an initial offer worth £51.3m (€60m) plus £8.6m (€10m) in add-ons and are holding out for £73.1m (€85m).

United are expected to return with a second bid closer to the La Liga giants’ asking price, and there is hope they will accept it to boost their current financial turmoil. That offer is likely to be lodged this week ahead of pre-season training.

Ten Hag will be eager to make as many signings as possible before United jet off for their pre-season tour of Thailand, Australia and Oslo next month. The first wave of players, those who didn’t represent their nations during the June international window, will return and meet the Dutchman for the first time on Monday.

De Jong would be among those joining the group in the first couple of weeks of July after he played four games within 11 days for the Netherlands earlier this month. Once a deal is in place for the 25-year-old, Eriksen and Martinez could swiftly follow if Ten Hag gets his way.

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