After having failed twice to sign the defender in 2017 and 2022, FC Barcelona were able to incorporate Inigo Martinez into their squad in the last summer transfer window.
The Catalans had first tried to get the defender in 2017 when Ernesto Valverde wanted him, but Bartomeu did not agree to pay €32 million for his signing.
Then, five years later, Mateu Alemany made a €15 million offer to Athletic Club for the defender, but this offer was rejected. But having become a free agent this summer, the Spaniard was convinced to join the Catalans by none other than Xavi Hernandez.
Xavi’s arguments to convince Martinez
According to SPORT, Xavi was a key figure for Inigo Martinez as he decided to join the Catalan club last summer. Xavi wanted to bolster his defense after the departure of Gerard Pique, while Eric Garcia also left the club on loan in the last days of the summer transfer window, thus proving Xavi’s decision to incorporate another defender right.
Interestingly, one of the points that Xavi made to convince Martinez to join Barcelona was that he would use a 3-4-3 formation this season, with Kounde, Araujo, and Martinez as the starting defenders. This was a very alluring offer for Martinez, who agreed to play under the former Barcelona midfielder.
Martinez’s friendship with Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba from the Spanish national team also paved his way towards Barcelona.
Martinez gaining momentum
Martinez’s performances in the last four matches have further proved Xavi’s decision to bet on the defender who came without full fitness to the Blaugrana club and was already 32 years of age when he joined.
He played ninety minutes against his former sides, Athletic Club and Real Sociedad, and another full game against Real Madrid. He also played 82 minutes against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.
All these matches were key for Barcelona, and Martinez helped Barcelona take the full points in three of these four matches. His performance in last night’s match against Real Sociedad was particularly impressive, as he contained Take Kubo every time he moved to the center.
Now, a call-up to the Spanish national side is awaiting, as Luis de la Fuente’s team is short on center-backs, and Martinez is gaining momentum at just the right time.