Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has spoken fondly about Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane during an exclusive interview with ESPN Argentina.
Martinez signed for the Red Devils from Ajax last summer and he has been a revelation during his debut campaign. The Argentine has been one of the club’s best performers in the Premier League.
He won’t feature for the rest of the season after a metatarsal surgery but the World Cup winner is still one of the contenders to win the club’s Player of the Year award.
Speaking to ESPN Argentina (as translated by Sport Witness), Fernandes praised the qualities of Martinez and highlighted why he has become a clear fan favourite.
He said: “I knew Licha, I’m not going to say that I knew him a lot, but I knew his qualities with the ball, because I had seen some matches.”
“I knew how he came out well from behind, obviously we know that with the Argentine blood, there’s always a little more hunger there, a little more desire, so you know they always give a little more.
“You always know that when an Argentine player arrives, he will bring you this… these things that teams often lack.
“And Licha arrived well, he arrived earning his place, he’s a player that people believed could not, given his height, play in the Premier League, because we know that it is a very physical championship.
“But I’m not very strong either and I’ve been playing here for three years. So I think that this mentality that Licha has, this winning mentality, this desire to show himself as one of the best, makes him so good.
“I knew that the fans would like Licha’s way of being, I knew why United fans here like people who want, who want more, who fight, who leave nothing to do in the match, who leave everything on the pitch.
“And I think Licha always does that, then you can play well or badly, it happens to everyone, but I think that the mentality he has and what he does in matches is what makes the fans like him.”
Meanwhile, Fernandes spoke about the blossoming central defensive partnership of Martinez and Raphael Varane and described the duo as ‘water and wine’ based on their style of play.
The Portugal international also complemented Victor Lindelof for his good performances alongside them.
He added: “I believe he arrived and did very well, the moment for the team also changed. We started to have more or less the same players more regularly.”
“I think for him, the many games he played with Rapha at his side went well. Because Rapha is a very calm player, the difference between Licha and Rapha, as we say, is like water and wine.
“So they complement each other very well because Rapha has this tranquility, this thing of knowing the moments, like Licha has, but Licha has more… like me, a little. With that fire inside that often doesn’t let us control the moments.
“And I believe that Rapha complements Licha very well, like Victor, as they do. But I think with Rapha he found the stability as a player that probably makes him better.
“They played many games together that gave us a lot of peace of mind, a lot of quality behind us and I believe that Licha is making a big difference for us.”
Varane and Martinez have been manager Erik ten Hag’s preferred centre-back duo this term but the pair won’t be reunited until the beginning of pre-season.
Both defenders picked up injuries in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-final tie versus Sevilla. Varane was fortunate to avoid a season-ending setback.
It was initially predicted that the Frenchman may not return until the FA Cup final on June 3 but he has made a quicker recovery. He started against Wolves last weekend.
Nonetheless, Ten Hag may want to handle him with caution this month. Varane could be rested for the final league game if United manage to secure a top-four finish.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com
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