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Virgil van Dijk called out “absolute rubbish” about Man Utd rival Lisandro Martinez

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                                                                               Lisandro Martinez

There will be no love lost when Manchester United travel to Anfield to face Liverpool on Sunday.

The Red Devils are on a high after ending a six-year trophy drought last weekend and will be intent on piling even more misery on Jurgen Klopp’s side, who have endured a campaign to forget.

Clashes between United and Liverpool have been some of the most entertaining and ferocious in Premier League history in recent years given the animosity between the two sides.

However, that fierce rivalry didn’t deter Virgil van Dijk from speaking out in defence of Lisandro Martinez earlier in the season after the defender was criticised following his blockbuster summer switch to Old Trafford.

The former Ajax ace’s arrival was shrouded by scepticism from fans and pundits alike: plenty believed that the Argentinian international’s 5ft 9 frame would struggle to cope with the rigorous demands of the Premier League.

But Van Dijk was having none of it when he spoke to former United favourite Gary Neville on The Overlap earlier in the season. The Dutchman said: “People talking about Lisandro Martínez and his height, are talking absolute rubbish. It can help as a centre-back if you’re a bit taller, but what he’s done since coming to the Premier League, has been good. He’s a good signing for Manchester United, he’s good on the ball, he’s very passionate, so I can only speak positively about him.

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“I have respect for what he’s achieved so far, and I hope he does well at United – but that he doesn’t get successful there with winning trophies! In England, everyone loves criticising players about everything, but that’s fine because you can’t change it. Lisandro has shown many good performances already, and he shouldn’t think about the outside noise around him.”

Given that Van Dijk has established himself as one of Europe’s finest defenders since moving to Anfield, it shouldn’t come as any great surprise that he knew exactly what he was talking about – his verdict on Martinez has proved to be spot-on.

Join the debate! Who do you think will come out on top on Sunday: Liverpool or Man Utd? Let us know here.

Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez

Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez© David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Martinez has silenced plenty of critics and has struck up an effective partnership with Raphael Varane at the heart of Manchester United’s defence.

Such has been Martinez’ impact, United’s captain Harry Maguire has effectively lost his spot in the team and has spent the majority of the campaign sitting on the bench.

The capture of Martinez and former Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro has reinforced the spine of Manchester United’s team and given them the structure and stability they were desperately lacking under previous regimes.

United’s progress under Erik ten Hag cannot be understated: in just a matter of months, the Dutchman has transformed the mess he inherited into a team that looks capable of challenging for major honours again.

Martinez has more than played his part in that – just as Van Dijk predicted. And the Liverpool man may well find out first-hand just how right he was on Sunday

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