Barcelona is reportedly after Basque centre-back Iñigo Martínez for a fee of €32 million.
According to Sport, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu spoke to Real Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay on the telephone to discuss the player. While Sociedad has refused to budge from their hefty buyout clause, they’re apparently willing to negotiate the fee in terms of a transfer so Barcelona can avoid paying additional taxes.
With Jeremy Mathieu gone and Thomas Vermaelen halfway out the door, the need for another left sided defender is apparent in the Barcelona back-line. Javier Mascherano remains the primary back-up for both CB roles while newly promoted Marlon Santos could be loaned out to a team in La Liga. This means that there is still room for a left-footed CB, which is where Iñigo Martínez comes in.
There are many who will question the acquisition—in most part because of the price—but the player has been a long-term target for Barcelona ever since he first caught the attention of former sporting director Andoni Zubizaretta.
Samuel Umtiti has managed to usurp Javier Mascherano from the starting line-up forming a formidable partnership with Gerard Pique in the process. There are multiple reports in the market that suggest that Iñigo is being brought in to replace Umtiti from the heart of defence; I beg to differ.
Umtiti trumps the Basque in possession and defence while Iñigo comes out on top in terms of creating from the back. However, any advantage that Iñigo may bring in will be temporary considering the growth curve that Umtiti has been on for the past couple of years. There will be sceptics regarding the player himself, as many would rather buy someone younger, but instant success is a necessity at Barça—we need someone who can contribute now.
It would be a grave mistake on the club’s part if they’re bringing in a big name for the sake of it. If one were to forget the price, however, Iñigo Martínez is a huge improvement over both Jeremy Mathieu & Thomas Vermaelen, and I would swap him for those two in a heartbeat.