Central defender Inigo Martinez has been a topic of conversation ever since the summer when the first hints that he might exit Athletic Club came about. That suggestion has been fed by consistently links to Barcelona in recent months.
His contract is up in the summer of 2023 and it appears he has no intention of signing a new deal. It leaves Athletic in something of a tight corner as they are likely to lose a key central defender for nothing.
According to Sport, they will not give in to Martinez’s wishes to depart the club and will not negotiate any exit from Athletic in January.
Martinez will be able to negotiate a contract with Barcelona from January onwards, but the retirement of Gerard Pique has led some to wonder if the Blaugrana might try to accelerate a move to replace the departing veteran.
Perhaps the key stumbling block is Athletic’s lack of depth. Currently Ernesto Valverde has just three main options in central defence following the departure of Unai Nunez to Celta Vigo in the summer – Martinez, Yeray Alvarez and Dani Vivian. Waiting until the end of the season would give Los Leones six more months to sign a replacement, bring back Nunez, develop Vivian further and blood a future talent.