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Iñigo Martinez a step away from Barcelona

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The Real Sociedad man has agreed to a five-year deal.

Real Sociedad de Futbol v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Real Sociedad’s centre-back Iñigo Martinez is reportedly closing in on a move to Barcelona, according to Sport.

The report claims Barca will pay his €32 million release clause and sign a five-year deal with the Blaugrana.

Martinez has amassed a plethora of experience while at Real Sociedad. Since arriving in 2011 he has appeared in 193 La Liga games. During his time at Sociedad he was also part of Spain’s under-21 Euro Championship side in 2013.

According to Sport, this specific transfer is at the request of Ernesto Valverde. The new coach seems keen to increase his defensive options, ahead of the new season. The decision to pursue smaller pieces as opposed to going for the big name immediately could prove to be wise for Valverde’s first summer in charge.

Most of the analysis after Neymar’s transfer has been on who will replace him on the wing, rightly so given its importance. The move to go after a centre-back first is a fascinating insight into the psyche of how Valverde will build his Barcelona.

The report also claims that Martinez’s arrival will mean youngster Marlon Santos heading out on loan, with the new signing set to rival Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti at centre-back.

This will likely be the first post-Neymar signing for Barça. The opportunity to put the €222m back into the first team will be a vital litmus test for Valverde’s Barcelona. Martinez is his first chance at proving he can build a team from a massive transfer purse, a golden opportunity for the first year manager.