It might be less than a month since the last summer transfer window closed, but Barcelona are already planning for the next year and seem to have their first signing already in order.
As per a report from Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona are set to sign Athletic Club defender Inigo Martinez on a free transfer in 2023, with there being a verbal agreement in principle in place between the player’s camp and the club already.
Martinez had been linked with the Blaugrana this past summer as well after the club’s pursuit of Jules Kounde became complicated. While the Catalans did manage to get the Frenchman’s signing, they have continued to pursue the 31-year-old Martinez at the same time.
An experienced individual and a leader on the pitch, the Athletic Club centre-half is reportedly well-liked by Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez.
Barça already have as many as five centre-backs on their roster currently but all of them are right-footed. Hence, the manager is keen on signing a left-footed central defender next year to add more balance and options to the team, with Martinez being the top option.
The report states that Xavi believes that signing Martinez would allow him to field a three-man backline with a natural left-sided defender in the roster, rather than having to use someone like Marcos Alonso, who can play in that position but is not a natural.
Furthermore, there is a chance that veteran defender Gerard Pique may be forced to leave Barcelona next summer if he does not play a fixed number of matches in the ongoing campaign. And Martinez is viewed as the replacement for the 35-year-old club icon.
The Spanish international was keen on joining Barcelona last summer itself, but the move did not go through following Kounde’s arrival, while Atheltic Club were unwilling to let go of their important player easily.
But he remains keen on the switch and hence, has not signed a new contract with the Basque Country outfit as of yet. Athletic, for their part, have been trying to extend his stay, but he has managed to put it off thus far.
With a verbal agreement already believed to be in place, Martinez could be poised to join the Catalan heavyweights next summer, unless something drastic happens.