Lisandro Martinez to Man Utd: Who are the Premier League's shortest centre-backs?

Lisandro Martinez to Man Utd: Who are the Premier League's shortest centre-backs?

Keen to strengthen their defensive line after a disappointing 2021/22 campaign, Manchester United are reported to have tabled a £43 million bid for Ajax centre-back Lisandro Martinez.

The 24-year-old Argentine defender has been a key man over the past three seasons for the Dutch champions under new United boss Erik ten Hag – and now appears set for a move to the Premier League.

A cultured, ball-playing defender, Martinez is seen as the solution to United’s woes at the back, despite only being five-foot nine-inches tall (175cm).

Should he complete his switch to Old Trafford, that would make Martinez the smallest centre-back in the Premier League by a distance.

In theory, that’s far from an ideal statistic given that the ‘big number nine’-type striker is very much back in fashion.

Among the frontmen that could tower over Martinez in the English top-flight next season include Manchester City’s Erling Haaland, Bournemouth’s Kiefer Moore, Newcastle’s Chris Wood and Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez to name a few.

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Rafa van der Vaart

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Speaking on his FIVE YouTube channel recently, former United centre-back Rio Ferdinand questioned whether Martinez’s lack of height would hamper him in the Premier League.

“[Darwin] Nunez and [Erling] Haaland have just gone into the big teams at Liverpool and Man City. They are over six foot; he is going to have to deal with people like that on a regular basis,” Ferdinand began, per the Daily Mail.

“Chris Wood at Newcastle, these are big, big guys, you can go through the league and find players of this ilk. Will he be able to deal with people like that because physically, he’s on the smaller side for a centre half.”

Lisandro Martinez in action for Ajax
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – DECEMBER 09: Lisandro Martinez of Ajax in action during the UEFA Champions League Group D stage match between Ajax Amsterdam and Atalanta BC at Johan Cruijff Arena on December 09, 2020 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Sporting stadiums around Netherlands remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

We already know that Martinez will become the smallest centre-back in the competition if he swaps the Eredivisie for the Premier League, but just who are least-lofty central defenders in the English top-flight right now.

To find the answer, we’ve taken to the ever-dependable Transfermarkt to identify the 10 shortest centre-backs in the Premier League at present.

To qualify, players must have competed in at least one top-flight game last season – which rules out Chelsea’s Ethan Ampadu, who stands six foot tall.

Check out the list in full below.

Who are the smallest centre-backs in the Premier League?

10. Nathan Ferguson (Crystal Palace)

Height: 6 foot and 0 inches (184cm)

9. Japhet Tanganga (Tottenham)

Height: 6 foot and 0 inches (184cm)

Japhet Tanganga
LEICESTER, ENGLAND – JANUARY 19: Japhet Tanganga of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur at The King Power Stadium on January 19, 2022 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

8. Ben Godfrey (Everton)

Height: 6 foot and 0 inches (184cm)

Ben Godfey v Man Utd
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – APRIL 09: Ben Godfrey of Everton and Marcus Rashford of Manchester United battle for the ball during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on April 09, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

7. Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa)

Height: 6 foot and 0 inches (183cm)

Ezri Konsa v Leeds
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 09: Ezri Konsa of Aston Villa and Daniel James of Leeds United battle for possession during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Leeds United at Villa Park on February 09, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

6. Malang Sarr (Chelsea)

Height: 5 foot and 11 inches (182cm)

Malang Sarr v Arsenal
LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 20: Malang Sarr of Chelsea is challenged by Martin Oedegaard of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on April 20, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

5. Calum Chambers (Aston Villa)

Height: 5 foot and 11 inches (182cm)

Calum Chambers
LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 13: Calum Chambers of Aston Villa during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Aston Villa at London Stadium on March 13, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

4. Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)

Height: 5 foot and 11 inches (182cm)

Marc Guehi
LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 04: Marc Guehi of Palace gives instructions during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on April 04, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

3. Thiago Silva (Chelsea)

Height: 5 foot and 11 inches (181cm)

Thiago Silva
LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 24: Thiago Silva of Chelsea celebrates after their sides victory during the Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on April 24, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

2. Nathan Ake (Manchester City)

Height: 5 foot and 10 inches (180cm)

Nathan Ake
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – APRIL 20: Nathan Ake of Manchester City prepares to take a throwing during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion at Etihad Stadium on April 20, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

1. Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)

Height: 5 foot and 10 inches (178cm)

Cesar Azpilicueta
WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 19: Cesar Azpilicueta of Chelsea in action during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea at Molineux on December 19, 2021 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Having filled in on 12 occasions at the heart of the Chelsea defence last season, Azpilicueta technically qualifies as the shortest centre-back in the Premier League.

Even as something of a stop-gap, though, the Spaniard is still a full inch taller than Martinez – which can count for a lot when competing for the ball in the air.

A perceived lack of height hasn’t stopped Man City’s Ake from getting his hands on the Premier League trophy twice in the last two seasons, while Chelsea veteran Thiago Silva continues to defy time as he continually impresses for the Blues, despite his diminutive stature.

Marc Guehi playing for England
WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JUNE 14: Marc Guehi of England during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 3 match between England and Hungary at Molineux on June 14, 2022 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Fourth-shortest centre-back Guehi also had a fine season last term, making his England debut off the back of some fine form for Crystal Palace.

Height, then, isn’t necessarily a deciding factor behind success in the Premier League.

Channeling the likes of Fabio Cannavaro and Javier Mascherano (who were both a similar height to Martinez), the Ajax man has worked tirelessly to develop his ability in the air.

In fact, per Sofascore, Martinez managed to win 79 aerial duels in the Eredivisie last season, compared with United captain Harry Maguire’s 75 in the Premier League.

Harry Maguire
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – APRIL 09: Harry Maguire of Manchester United reacts during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on April 09, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Of course, the standard of competition is generally accepted to be greater in the English top-flight, but that number still shows that Martinez won’t be easily bullied.

Ultimately, Ten Hag clearly believes that Martinez can improve United as a defensive unit and, coming off their worse campaign in Premier League history, that’s something the club desperately requires.

Lisandro Martinez to Man Utd latest | Via The Football Terrace

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