Manchester United have made a mistake with their untouchables list ahead of the transfer window

Manchester United's players celebrate with the FA Cup trophy on the Wembley pitch.
-Credit: (Image: Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images.)

Manchester United's players had not even made their way out onto the sun-soaked Wembley pitch and Lisandro Martinez was already making his presence felt.

As Erik ten Hag and Pep Guardiola got the nod to lead out their teams behind the match officials, Martinez screamed at the top of his voice in an attempt to rally his teammates. His scream was loud enough to force the young mascot next to him to cover his left ear.

Martinez was making just his second start since overcoming a muscle injury and United's supporters were hopeful his last dance with Raphael Varane at centre-back would boost their chances of an unlikely FA Cup triumph. It was the first time they had started alongside each other since February 1.

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While United's 13th FA Cup crown will always be remembered for the goals from academy graduates Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo, Martinez's role in contributing to such an impressive triumph should not be dismissed. He played a starring role at the back, managing 73 minutes on what was just his fifth start this calendar year.

The Argentine was restricted to just 14 appearances in all competitions this season because of injury issues, robbing United and Ten Hag of one of the most important figures in the squad. He was immense in his first season at Old Trafford, silencing critics in the process, and United missed him far too often this term.

Providing an unrivalled level of passion for the game, Martinez wears his heart on his sleeve, producing the commitment and desire United fans expect as a bare minimum. As he said in a post-match interview with MUTV, United's players "need to die for this badge".

Martinez's mentality ranks as one of the very best in the squad. Few can admit they are as passionate and motivated as he is when they cross the white line.

While there is no doubting the importance of having the right mentality, Martinez is also fortunate enough to be an excellent player at the same time. His presence in the heart of United's back four at Wembley gave Ten Hag's side a completely different dimension, with the Argentine capable of stepping up with the ball, playing aggressive, forward-thinking passes and giving United an improved level of control.

"Lisandro Martinez is [one of the] top five centre-backs in the world," City boss Guardiola said in a post-match interview. "He made the difference on this game by playing passes through our defence."

Lisandro Martinez lifts the FA Cup in his right hand on the Wembley pitch.
Lisandro Martinez is a vitally important figure for Manchester United. -Credit:Justin Setterfield - The FA/The FA via Getty Images.

Compliments do not come much bigger. Martinez's passing ability was a trait United missed far too often this season. Last term, he regularly linked up with Luke Shaw on the left side of the defence and they progressed the ball with purpose in the first phase of the build-up play.

What's more, United's defensive record has been poor this season without Martinez being an almost ever-present figure. He played a key role in helping the club record 28 clean sheets in all competitions last season, whereas this term they kept just 13.

United are planning to make big changes to the landscape of their centre-back department this summer and have already made the decision to let Varane go. Jonny Evans is out of contract, meaning he could follow suit, while one of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof is expected to be sold.

United need to recruit a new first-choice partner for Martinez for him to bond with and form the bedrock of the team. Yet the club, surprisingly, has not included the Argentine on its list of players who have been deemed untouchable ahead of this summer's transfer window.

As reported by the Manchester Evening News last month, it is understood the club will entertain offers for everyone but Andre Onana, Rasmus Hojlund, Mainoo and Garnacho. Martinez should be added to that list, as should captain Bruno Fernandes, who also played a starring role at Wembley.

Martinez, who faced a barrage of questions about his height when he arrived in England almost two years ago, has been one of United's biggest success stories in the transfer market in the last few years. His injury record this season, of course, has put the brakes on his progress, but his importance to this team is unquestionable.

Next season, United will be praying he does not encounter the same level of bad luck he has experienced this term. First, though, they need to add him to their list of untouchables.