For many seasons, Barcelona fans can easily say that the team’s major deficiency was in their backline. With Jules Koundé now close to Chelsea, Clement Lenglet over at Spurs, Samuel Umtiti and his never-ending complications, and Gerard Piqué being more of a question mark than a solution, the remainder of the transfer market does see a potential solution with Athletic Club defender Íñigo Martínez.
Joan Laporta and Mateu Alemany decided to change their strategy in the transfer market and might have found a potential solution to a backline that is in dire need of renewal.
The Basque defender was a change in profile compared to what they were looking for in Koundé. That being said, he still ticks all the boxes that Xavi is looking for in a defender. For starters, the 31-year-old is left-footed and also imposes a physical presence that has perhaps been lacking these last few years at the Camp Nou.
Martínez Has A History With Barcelona
This is not the first time that Martínez was linked to Barcelona in the recent past. Back in 2017, he was on the team’s radar when Ernesto Valverde asked for the player but his wishes were not granted. The season after that, Íñigo made the infamous jump from Real Sociedad to arch-rivals Athletic, something that generated a great deal of anger and disdain over in San Sebastián.
SPORT also indicated that Martínez broke off conversations with the club as there was a desire to extend his contract beyond June 30 of next year. Shortly thereafter, the player came to terms with Barcelona for a (possible) four-year contract. With that obstacle out of the way, there is only one more hoop that is needed be negotiated in order to finalize this transaction.
According to Mundo Deportivo, Barça would be in a good situation to negotiate with Athletic Club as Martínez only has one year left in his contract and the club would like to find a way to cut their losses.
Regardless, this eventual exit is a problem for the Basques. They will eventually lose their best player from the last season, who also was one of the best central defenders in La Liga last year.
During his time at Athletic, Martínez was one of the lynchpins in that defense. He took part in 139 matches and scored five goals. He also was part of the team that won the Spanish Supercup back in 2021 as well as being a runner-up in the Copa Del Rey on two occasions.
In the eventuality that negotiations do not end up favorable for Barcelona, there is another option on the cards for Xavi Hernández.
Another player that was reportedly on Barcelona’s radar was Villarreal center back Pau Torres. The problem here is the potential price tag.
According to Diario SPORT, the asking price that the Yellow Submarine have for their Spanish international ranges around €50-60 million. It is also mentioned that should the Catalans haggle a little more, there is a chance they could have to pay €45 million for the services of the 25-year-old.
All of which underscores why Íñigo Martínez may just be the best option available right now.