Barcelona are reportedly close to signing Athletic Bilbao centre-back Inigo Martinez in the summer.
The Catalan club were interested in signing the Spaniard last summer and had offered Athletic Bilbao a small transfer fee, but it was not accepted. The defender has entered the final six months of his contract at Bilbao and is available for free at the end of the season, something Xavi Hernandez’s club wants to take advantage of.
According to Spanish outlet SPORT, Barcelona are closing in on a deal to sign Inigo Martinez from Athletic Bilbao. The Blaugrana are confident that they can reach an agreement to sign the Spanish centre-back on a Bosman transfer when his contract expires in June.
A product of the Real Sociedad academy, Martinez, 31, made 239 appearances for the senior team before completing a switch to Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao in 2018. Now into his sixth season at Athletico, he has been a mainstay in their backline and has racked up close to 170 appearances.
There is confidence within the Barcelona camp that the operation to sign Martinez will happen smoothly unless there are any financial fair play limits to deal with during the summer transfer window, the report adds.
Inigo Martinez to Barcelona—A smart move?
Barcelona decided to strengthen their defensive unit before the start of the season with the additions of Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen. Both Kounde and Christensen have endured injury-hit debut campaigns at Camp Nou, while Gerard Pique decided to hang his boots as a professional footballer in November.
Considering Pique’s greatness, experience and winning mentality at the club, the defender’s void is something Xavi Hernandez must aim to fill in at the end of the season. Athletic Bilbao’s Inigo Martinez has emerged as an option for a free transfer, and the player ticks plenty of boxes for the Catalan giants.
For one, Martinez will arrive on a free transfer, which would prove appropriate considering Barcelona’s current financial problems. Secondly, his vast experience at La Liga is something the club are looking at closely as they seek a player to not only replace Pique but also add quality depth to the squad.
Signing the Spaniard for free could prove to be a smart decision for Barcelona. The 31-year-old is coming to the end of his tenure with Athletic Bilbao and would certainly be attracted at the prospect of joining Xavi’s side in the summer. He has been playing La Liga football for over a decade now and could massively help the Blaugrana challenge for major honours.
All in all, Barcelona signing Martinez on a potential free transfer should be a good move despite the player’s advancing years.