Cristian Romero reckons Man Utd have pulled off a masterstroke after naming Lisandro Martinez and Virgil van Dijk as the Premier League’s best defenders, and admitted a change Antonio Conte requested of him was difficult to take.
Tottenham completed the permanent acquisition of Cristian Romero on August 30. The no-nonsense Argentina international has excelled since moving to north London initially on loan in 2021.
He can stake a claim to being Tottenham’s best defender and will play an integral role in helping Spurs to push for Champions League qualification.
When speaking to Sky Sports recently, the 24-year-old was quizzed about his love of defending and claimed he drew inspiration from a Barcelona trio.
Romero cited Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano as players he “loved watching”. But when asked who are the best closer to home in the Premier League right now, Romero had two names in mind.
“Today, the best defender for me is Virgil van Dijk, always, and Lisandro Martinez from Manchester United,” said Romero.
“For me, they are the best in the Premier League.”
Despite his sluggish start to the season, few will be surprised to see Van Dijk named. The Dutchman raised eyebrows when arriving from Southampton for £75m, though has more than justified his price tag in subsequent years.
Man Utd’s Martinez may come as something of a shock to some given his recent arrival to the league.
The touchy subject of Martinez’s height is frequently brought up by fans of rival teams. However, Martinez boasts a formidable aerial duels percentage and his height has been a relative non-factor thus far.
What’s more, he has jettisoned £80m man Harry Maguire from Erik ten Hag’s starting eleven. His budding partnership with Raphael Varane has shown extremely encouraging signs of promise thus far.
Conte demand difficult, but Romero more than willing
Romero has primarily featured in a back three since joining Spurs.
The Argentine had extensive experience playing in that system at former clubs Genoa and Atalanta.
However, he was positioned centrally more often than not at the Italian pair. At Spurs, Eric Dier controls that role with Romero pushed out to the right of the three.
Romero admitted that change was initially difficult to take. However, he’s more than willing to do what’s required for the greater good.
“It’s very different,” admitted Romero.
“My favourite position is in the middle, because that’s where I have always played. But I am playing on the right for the national team too now and I will happily play wherever I am asked to, so I don’t have a problem with it.
“At the beginning, it was difficult, for sure, but I got used to it and I learned the role.
“I have to keep learning and keep correcting many things, but I’m good and I feel comfortable there.”
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