When Inigo Martinez signed for Barcelona, the social media buzz was such that you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Catalan club had completely lost their minds.
‘Too old,’ ‘not good enough’ and ‘won’t fit our style’ were just some of the more mild mannered and polite responses from culers that had quite obviously wanted a bigger name to sign for the club during the summer.
Unfairly judged before he’d even arrived, Martinez was going to need time to settle and give his best.
Fortunately, for all concerned, that settling in period was achieved in double quick time thanks to his diligence, and he certainly hasn’t looked out of place in the starting XI.
Any thoughts of Martinez not being a good fit stylistically were soon shown up for being ill -informed, given that the 32-year-old has given the back four real balance when he’s played.
An appreciation of exactly what’s required and when is a feature of his uncomplicated and often direct play too.
As might be expected for a player used to being in the trenches at Athletic Club, the physical aspects of the game are a motivating factor for him. He simply likes nothing better than a real one-on-one battle.
He can still cover the ground quickly when required too, and bringing the ball out of defence on the left side is also his speciality.
There really isn’t too much to dislike about a player that very much wears his heart on his sleeve when going to war.
His decent accuracy in the pass per WhoScored merely serves to underscore his excellence on the pitch for the Catalan outfit.
Having said that, if there’s one area when he could, and perhaps should pay attention, it’s the amount of cross-field ‘Hollywood’ balls that he plays.
There have already been a few occasions this season where, although one can appreciate that he’s seen that the long diagonal ball is on, he’s lacked the execution to achieve it.
Therefore, attempting such a move becomes a liability and possession is handed straight back to the opposition.
That is being picky, however, because in the eight appearances in all competitions that he’s made during 2023-24, he’s offered something of value for Xavi in every one.
He’s given Xavi food for thought before each squad announcement now which can only be of benefit, and the only potential issue for Inigo moving forwards is how often he is going to be a fixture in the starting line-up.