In a talk with Clarín, the 22-year-old defender for whom the Dutch team paid 7 million euros talks about adapting to the elite, the National Team, Lionel Messi and his fight against social injustice.
Chasing a soccer ball, Lisandro Martínez grew in every place where he kicked. “It was very nice to play baby and to have achieved so many titles with the boys at the Urquiza club and at Libertad de Gualeguay. I continue to have contact with some of those with whom we won the tournament in Entre Ríos “, recalls this 22-year-old central defender, who at 14 he moved away from his large family to prove himself at Newell’s, a club that sheltered him in the pension until he reached the First, where he played just one game.
“When I went to Newell’s, I knew I was going to be a footballer. When it was my turn to play near the Primera fields, I repeated to myself that someday i was going to be there. That’s how it went. I was only a short time, but thank God I was able to debut, “he says.
The teachings and lack of opportunities took him from Rosario to Buenos Aires to become visible in the magical Defense and Justice of Sebastián Beccacece, who with few economic resources and a lot of play fought the championship hand-in-hand with Racing until the end in 2019. After that second place, he crossed the Atlantic.
The eyes of Ajax fell on the technique of this defender who is described as seasoned in the brand, but who change the armor for the tailcoat when it comes to going out playing and playing.
So much so that in the prestigious club in the Netherlands, which does a school of its style and paid for it a few 7 million euros, also serves as a central midfielder when required by the technician. Due to its multi-functionality, he likes to observe German Joshua Kimmich: “He has technique and a very complete reading of the game.”
“We are very good. We are calm. We had already played a very good game against a great rival like Liverpool for the Champions League and we lacked luck. And now we have many positive things. We are a great team and we have to continue on this path,” he said. He says Despite a Clarion after having registered in the record win 13-0 against Venlo, for the Eredivisie (he scored the 12th goal) and about to play in Italy with Nicolás Tagliafico, the other Argentine on the squad, on Tuesday’s visit to Atalanta, for the second round of the cup most important in Europe.
A little shy. Quiet. Low profile. Familiar. Reflexive. Insurance. Sensitive to social injustices. Martínez does not make an effort to show anything other than during an extensive talk in which words such as intensity, discipline, maturity, game, cry, endure, butcher, people, help, Selection, Messi …
-What is it like to grow up in a club pension?
-I was at Newell’s since I was 14. There you have to fix it alone. I was very close to my mother and father, who did everything to me. And suddenly you have to take responsibility and be careful with your little things, your boots, your clothes. You make friends and that is the most beautiful thing. We defend each other in there, because we are a family and that is incredible. As a child you have a maturity of a 20 or 22 year old kid. The footballer matures very quickly, but it also depends on the mentality of each player, where he wants to go and the things he is willing to put up with.
-Is it difficult for a 21 or 22-year-old player to suddenly see himself in a top club in Europe and not believe that he is there, that he has already arrived?
– Honestly, I do not know of cases of players who come to Europe and believe it. I can say that everyone who comes here has to be disciplined and work very hard, because this is first level and every detail is great.
-Were you always a defense player?
-In Newell’s I always played as a central defender. You want to be complete. I was always about having the ball and generating numerical superiority. I really like tactics. I was always very brave. I was adding passing game. I watch a lot of football and observe the movements. You learn a lot by watching. In Defense and Justice at times I ended up playing central midfielder. And when the Ajax coach put me in that position, I was already prepared. I learned a lot about the position.
-What cost you more in Amsterdam: adapting to the language and customs or the pace of the game?
–I came without speaking English or anything. And I don’t speak the language here because it is very difficult: just a few words. I learned English here and I deal with it. That was the least of it. What I really suffered was the intensity with which they play at Ajax. It really is amazing. Everyone’s reading of the game … They know when to play one touch, when two, when to let it go … I suffered a lot the first two or three weeks and then I was able to loosen up well. In the “loco“They were already killing me. I kept paying.
-What was going through your head in those first days?