Lisandro Martinez, Ajax
With Jurrien Timber increasingly likely to stay at Ajax, interested parties appear to have turned their attention to the Dutchman’s core partner. Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United have been linked to Lisandro Martinez.
The Argentine was our highest rated defender in the Eredivisie last season. His pace is exceptional. Martinez made 92.4 passes per 90 minutes last season, more than any other player in the division, and his 88.9% passing success rate ranked sixth in the league. Additionally, his tally of 6.1 accurate long balls per 90 minutes was the fifth best of all Eredivisie outfielders.
Martínez helps Ajax retain possession and move the ball upfield as quickly as possible. He also excels off the ball, aggressively winning possession for his team, with 4.5 combined tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes. A left-footed centre-back appears to be a priority for a number of Premier League clubs this summer, so it’s no wonder they’re considering Martinez.
David Raum, Hoffenheim
It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for David Raum. Having left Greuther Fürth for Hoffenheim on a free transfer last summer, the left-back’s stock has soared considerably. Raum made his debut in Germany last September, but now establishes himself as the first choice for Hansi Flick’s side. Hoffenheim will either have to shed a substantial interest in his prized asset or make a big profit on the 24-year-old.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (90) and Filip Kostic (87) were the only full-backs to make more key passes than Raum (83) in Europe’s top five leagues last season, with Alexander-Arnold (12) the only full-back to register more assists than the German (11).
Manchester United have Luke Shaw and Alex Telles on the books, but a player of Raum’s caliber would be hard to turn down. Meanwhile, Chelsea may lose Marcos Alonso and Emerson this summer, so they need another left-back.
Evan Ndicka, Eintracht Frankfurt
Tottenham’s interest in a left-handed central defender is well known. After a failed attempt, so far, to sign Alessandro Bastoni from Inter, Pau Torres emerged as his main target. If they miss out on the Villarreal and Spain defender, Evan Ndicka is a good option. The 22-year-old only has one year left on his contract with Eintracht Frankfurt, so he may be available for less than market value.
Only Nico Schlotterbeck scored higher than Ndicka in the Bundesliga last season, with the Frenchman excelling in a four- and three-man backline for the Europa League winners. He had a combined 108 tackles and interceptions, the 12th most in the Bundesliga.
Ndicka also proved to be a threat in the final third for Eintracht, directly contributing to eight league goals, scoring four. He may not be a household name, but the youngster has the potential to shine under Antonio Conte.
Jonathan Clauss, Lens
After a slow start to his first Ligue 1 campaign, Jonathan Clauss swept the division in 2021-22. He was directly involved in 16 goals for Lens, more than any other full-back or full-back in Europe’s top five leagues. His excellent form for Franck Haise’s side earned him his first call-up to France earlier this year.
Lens finished seventh in Ligue 1, meaning he won’t be playing in European football next season unless he goes ahead. Several of Europe’s top teams have been credited with an interest in the 29-year-old. Chelsea are reportedly monitoring his progress, which isn’t much of a surprise given the system Thomas Tuchel plays.
Clauss would be solid competition for Reece James for the right-back job and give Tuchel a quality option in the role when James is absent. If Clauss is available this summer, Chelsea shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to sign him.
Lautaro Martinez, Inter
Tottenham have already signed Fraser Forster, Ivan Perisic and Yves Bissouma, but they are willing to continue spending. It seems their move for Alessandro Bastoni has fallen by the wayside for now, but they could return to Inter and capitalize on the club’s need to sell players.
Last summer, Spurs reportedly agreed a fee for striker Lautaro Martinez only for the move to fall through when Inter sold Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea. With Inter working on deals to bring back Lukaku and sign Paulo Dybala, Spurs may have a chance to rekindle a Martinez deal. Inter CEO Beppe Marotta has said that Martínez is “a key player for our plans” but has also admitted that they may be “forced to sell” this summer.
Martinez finished fourth in combined goals and assists (24) and first in possession gained in the attacking third (34) in Serie A last season. He has also worked with Antonio Conte in the past. It will take a huge offer to convince Inter to sell the Argentine international, but it would be ideal for Conte’s system.