Bjorn Hardley may be the heir of Lisandro Martinez

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At the weekend, ten-man Manchester United held off Southampton at home to earn a draw, and Argentine center-back Lisandro Martinez played a key role in doing so. The World Cup winner once again displayed his class both in and out of possession.

The 25-year-old, who had nine recoveries on the day, was arguably the team’s “best player” against the Saints, according to Carl Anka of The Athletic. He was also wonderfully composed on the ball, at one point superbly turning his man just outside United’s penalty area.

Since joining for £56.7 million, the former Ajax player has had an outstanding season overall. The 5 foot 9 warrior has overcome any early concerns about his readiness for the Premier League to become a key member of Ten Hag’s team.

The tenacious “beast,” as praised by fellow countryman Emi Martinez, has already started 32 games in all competitions this season as a sign of his significance to the backline. Ten Hag appears to prefer a left-footed center-back option.

Lack of alternatives to the 15-cap machine at that position when needed will be the boss’ dilemma, and it may be somewhat unsustainable to have to rely on starting left-back Shaw as a sort of improvised option.

Finding a successor or understudy to Martinez could thus be crucial for the Old Trafford team in the near future. Bjorn Hardley, a form youth star, may be a good candidate for the position, according to Ten Hag.

Although young Hardley’s name is probably unfamiliar to the majority of United fans. He has recently been on the verge of making the first team despite having to wait to make his club’s senior debut.

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The Heir to Lisandro Martinez

The 20-year-old centre back, who joined the team in 2019 from NAC Breda in his native Netherlands. He called up to first-team training by former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He also made the move up again last month because Ten Hag wanted to get a closer look.

The talented Dutchman, who was once described as a “great child” by academy scout Rene Moonen, is similar to Martinez in that he can play at the centre of the defence as well as at left-back or in central midfield if necessary.

Hardley’s skill has been clear so far this season. He has made 22 appearances in all competitions at U21 level. The Dutchman collected two goal contributions. He also have notably appeared in all five EFL Trophy outings earlier in the campaign.

His appearances in that later competition saw the rising gem average a strong 1.6 tackles and one interception per game. From his defensive berth, with that record not too different to that of Martinez, who has averaged 1.8 and 1.2 for the same two metrics, respectively, in the league.

In light of the fact that Hardley seems to have the essential qualities to thrive in his compatriot’s system. Ten Hag should seriously consider giving the young man an opportunity. If he is to rotate his side in the near future.

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