With Jules Kounde now looking likely to join Chelsea, Barcelona are looking at other central defensive options.
The Blaugrana are eyeing Inigo Martnez, with the Spanish international centre-back’s contract expiring in 2023.
According to Onda Vasca, Barcelona have informed the Basque club that they are in a position to make a good offer for Martinez, although they will not offer his buyout clause of 80 million euros.
Athletic will leave the choice up to the player: if he wants to leave and says he will not renew his contract, the club will work on an exit that will not be for the amount of his clause but will not be less than 50 million euros.
New Athletic president Jon Uriarte is facing his first big hurdle since taking office in June. One of the priorities of his board of directors is to renew the contract of Martnez, but if the centre-back is set to leave, the aim is to make the most of it.
He left Real Sociedad for Athletic in January 2018 after they paid his 32 million euro buyout clause. He signed for five seasons and negotiations over a renewal were put on the back burner by the previous administration.
If Barcelona, taking advantage of the fact that they have activated their final ‘economic lever’, make an offer , they will discuss it with the player, who is already aware of interest from the Catalan club.. As long as the player wants to leave, either now or at the end of his contract, Athletic Club would accept the fact they must negotiate his sale.
Having have just let Unai Nunez leave on loan with an option to buy, the Basque club are currently short of centre-backs, and if Martinez were to leave, they would only have Daniel Vivian, Yeray Alvarez, Alex Petxa and Aitor Paredes of Athletic Club B to call upon.
If the deal goes through the club would have no choice but to go to the market. In the last few weeks, the club has considered signing Hugo Guillamon, who can play as a central defender and midfielder, and Jon Moncayola. With what they could receive for Martinez, the money would be there to sign both.
The matter will not be prolonged indefinitely. Athletic Club will play on Saturday against Mainz and will return to Bilbao on Saturday night. If Martinez does not play it can be taken for granted that a deal is imminent.