Barcelona have strengthened both their attack and their midfield significantly this summer – despite the arrival of Andreas Christensen, another major defensive signing also appears on the agenda. As Chelsea close in on a deal for Jules Kounde, alternatives have started to emerge for Barcelona.
One of those is Inigo Martinez. The 31-year-old central defender has been one of the most consistent defenders in Spain since arriving in Bilbao four years ago and having been interested in him previously, Sporting Director Mateu Alemany may try to revive that interest.
Martinez only has a year left on his contract with Athletic, but has a €50m release clause. Barcelona have no intention of paying his clause and according to Marca, they will only move for him if he asks for an exit. His insistence that he won’t renew with Athletic would be key to a deal as it might force Athletic to negotiate a lower price.
Los Leones have recently elected a new President in Jon Uriarte and he will not appreciate being forced into a corner over the issue. In addition, another central defender Unai Nunez has recently left the club on loan, potentially leaving Athletic with just two established centre-backs. Given the importance of Martinez to the team, it is not beyond Athletic to insist he sees out his contract regardless of his attentions over a renewal, as the Basque club are financially in a good position.