Monday, June 5, 2023

Barcelona Inching Closer To Landing This La Liga Defender: What Will He Add To Xavi’s Team?

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

In a recent tweet, renowned journalist Fabrizio Romano mentioned that Barcelona are inching closer to landing Athletic Bilbao defender Inigo Martinez. It has been revealed that the Catalan club are close to agreeing on a deal to sign the Spanish centre-half on a free transfer in the summer but the move will hinge on Financial Fair Play.

Martinez’s Recent Form In Spanish Football

Martinez is having an uninspiring season at the Wanda Metropolitano but has produced a few impressive performances at the heart of Bilbao’s backline. The 31-year-old has registered one goal in 14 matches for the Spanish club during this campaign in multiple competitions.

The veteran defender has been a rock at the back for his current employers as he is averaging 1.2 tackles, 1.3 interceptions and 3.6 clearances per game in La Liga. He has been accurate when distributing possession from inside his half after making 82.7% of his attempted passes in the Spanish first division (stats via whoscored).

Martinez is under contract at Athletic Bilbao until the end of this season. Hence, Barcelona will do well to get him on board this summer when he is set to become a free agent.

Inigo Martinez
ELCHE, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 11: Inigo Martinez of Athletic Club battles for possession with Alex Collado of Elche CF during the LaLiga Santander match between Elche CF and Athletic Club at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero on September 11, 2022 in Elche, Spain. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

What Will Martinez Add To Barcelona Head Coach Xavi’s Team?

Martinez loves a tackle and can make life difficult for the opposition attackers. He can time his challenges well to secure the ball back for his team on the defensive end of the pitch.

The Spanish sensation can read the danger quickly and usually puts his foot through the ball when required. He is primarily a central defender but can also fill in as a left-back if asked to do so.

We can expect Martinez to add more bite and steel to Barcelona‘s backline and increase competition for places within their match-day squad. He has got the experience to serve as an important member of Xavi‘s team and won’t take any time settling into life at the Nou Camp.

However, at 31, Martinez is a player on the decline and won’t be a long-term fix to Barcelona’s defensive needs. Still, Xavi should consider signing him on a free transfer in the off-season as he could help the Catalan club challenge for some top honours in the not-too-distant future.

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