Graeme Souness thinks Man Utd have been impacted by the absence of Lisandro Martinez in recent weeks as he has a ‘big influence on those around him’.
The Liverpool legend has openly admitted that he expected Martinez to be “exposed” this season, but the World Cup winner has proven his doubters wrong in his debut season at Old Trafford.
Martinez has formed a brilliant partnership with Raphael Varane and he has been one of Erik ten Hag’s best players this term.
The ex-Ajax man is out for the rest of this season with a metatarsal injury and Souness thinks Man Utd have missed him.
The pundit made this admission as part of his latest blog for The Daily Mail and he has also selected his Liverpool-Man Utd combined XI which is based on performances this season.
He went for a 7-4 split in favour of Liverpool and his team is as follows: Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Lisandro Martinez, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson; Jordan Henderson, Casemiro, Bruno Fernandes; Mo Salah, Darwin Nunez and Marcus Rashford.
Souness thinks Martinez’s ‘physique’ will be ‘an issue going forward’ but he ‘leads from the front for United’.
‘I ascribe some of their fall-off in form to the absence of Lisandro Martinez. They’ve have won only three of their six league matches since he was injured at Sevilla,’ Souness wrote for The Daily Mail.
‘I thought Martinez would get found out in the Premier League because of his physique. I still believe that will be an issue for him going forward – but he is one who leads from the front for United and has a big influence on those around him.
‘He is one of the four United players who do make my composite team, along with Casemiro, who also has that winning mentality, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes. But Liverpool players dominate my XI.’
Souness also argued that Alexander-Arnold and Liverpool can ‘get away with’ the defender’s recent position change ‘against lesser teams’ but it will not work ‘against the better teams’.
‘I still believe there’s recruitment needed for Liverpool’s midfield, just as I said in these pages back in August. There’s a lot of talk about Trent Alexander-Arnold pushing into a central midfield role. You’ll get away with that against the lesser teams. Not so against the better ones,’ Souness added.
‘Trent is one of the best passers of the ball in the league, but what concerns me about him playing there is what happens in the transitions when Liverpool lose the ball. If Trent is in midfield, he will have a bigger number of critical decisions to make in that moment.
‘Virgil van Dijk’s right-sided central defensive partner – Joel Matip, Ibrahima Konate or Joe Gomez – will be asked to split and push out into the wider area to cover the full-back position. Centre backs don’t like to be out there, because they feel exposed.’