- The Barça club wants to sign the Athletic center-back, whose contract is ending and with whom they have an agreement in principle
- Xavi needs a left-footed central defender because there isn’t one in the squad and he likes the Basque a lot
- The arrival of Iñigo Martínez to Barça, linked to the departure of Piqué
FC Barcelona has Iñigo Martínez (31 years old), a central defender for Athletic Club de Bilbao whose contract ends next summer, on its agenda. In fact, he already had it last summer when the signing of Jules Koundé was complicated by the great offensive he made for Chelsea to hire him at the end of July. Finally, Barça managed to get the services of the Sevilla central defender, but they did not miss the opportunity to keep Iñigo Martínez under control for the next season, which is when he ends his contract with Athletic Club. In fact, between Barça and the agents of the Ondarroa central, there is an agreement in principle for him to arrive at the Camp Nou, as a free agent, next summer. This agreement must be closed, but the verbal understanding between the parties clearly expresses the will of both to unite their destinies in 2023, provided that Martínez is a free agent.
There is no left-handed central
What is certain is that Iñigo Martínez likes Xavi Hernández very much, who wants a left-footed center-back in his squad. Right now there aren’t any since all the ones he has ( Araujo, Koundé, Christensen, Eric, and Piqué ) are right-handed. Something that is still strange with such a wide list of defenses. And more if you take into account that the culé coach also has in mind to play with a defense of three in certain games. For those cases, Xavi would like to have a left-footed center back who could act in the left zone of that line of three and who could fall to the wing with his ‘good’ leg and not with a changed leg, as happens if he lines up a defender in that position right-handed. Now, at least, he has the option of relocating Marcos Alonso, who is left-handed and has sometimes acted as a central defender, although it is not his natural position.
The Barça coach already knew that it would be very difficult to get Iñigo Martínez out of San Mamés this past summer. Athletic Bilbao is not easily snatched away from its pillars because its market is small and restricted to the Basque area of influence, and Martínez is one of its leaders. In addition, the arrival of a new president in charge this summer, Jon Uriarte, made the operation very complicated, but the flame has been kept alive. And that’s because the Barça coach likes Iñigo a lot because he is forceful, tough, an expert has a good footing, and represents a guarantee of instant adaptation and immediate performance given that he knows the Spanish competition perfectly.
In addition, everything indicates that Gerard Piqué (35 years old) will leave Barça next summer. The Catalan center-back has a contract until 2024, but as long as he plays a certain number of games this season. If he doesn’t dispute them, he will be ‘cut off’ next summer. If he leaves, the Barça technical staff believes that it is not bad to continue keeping five central defenders in the squad, either to play with a four-man defense or with three central defenders behind. The more competition in the squad, the better. That is what they believe in the sports area of Barça and that is why they see very well that Iñigo arrives to compete with Koundé, Christensen, Eric and Araujo .
Meanwhile, Athletic Bilbao wants to extend Iñigo Martínez ‘s contract but the player, for now, prefers to wait and is ambiguous in his speech to the media. He does not want to look bad with his club, in which he has accumulated a more than remarkable journey since 2018, but at 31 years old he believes that joining Barça would be a great step forward in his career. In addition, he knows that Xavi Hernández values him very much and wants to speed up the options of landing at Camp Nou. On the 11th, asked about a possible renewal, and he left the exit door open. “I don’t think I need to answer that question now. It is something that is in the hands of the club and my representative, ”he said. Saying ‘no’ to Barça if you have options is very complicated.