Reports: Barcelona trigger €32m release clause of Inigo Martinez
What's the story?
Real Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez has had his release clause triggered by Barcelona, according to a report in Spanish news publication, SPORT. This confirms the original story that was broken by Basque newspaper, Noticias De Gipuzkoa.
Martinez has been on the radar of the Blaugrana for quite some time, but the technical directors have held off on a move. However, new manager Ernesto Valverde has personally requested that Barcelona sign the player, as he seeks greater defensive options - even though Real Sociedad would be unwilling to negotiate a deal, thus requiring Barcelona to trigger the defender's €32 million clause.
In case you didn't know...
Inigo Martinez came through the ranks at Real Sociedad, with the Basque youngster making his debut for the first-team side in 2011, at the tender age of 20 years. The centre-back made 20 appearances for Spain's youth teams, and is now considered one of the best defenders in La Liga, although he's only been called up to play for La Furia Roja 4 times, finding game time tough to come by with the likes of Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Raul Albiol and Sergio Ramos blocking his path to the first team.
The heart of the matter
Real Sociedad rewarded Martinez for his progress with a 5-year-contract signed on the 26th of April, 2016. The Basque club have reportedly made clear to journalists that no contact has come from Barcelona - instead, the player has notified them of cancelling the contract. With the incoming €222 million from Neymar, €32 million will be a drop in the bucket for a player who will considerably improve Barcelona's backline.
The report also goes on to state that Martinez will sign a 5-year-contract, aimed at keeping the 26-year-old till the end of the 2021/22 season. Barcelona boss Ernest Valverde is a fan of the player, and made clear the need for a defender after observing his backup options like Marlon in pre-season training.
With Samuel Umtiti, Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano as established first team options, the arrival of a player who's made 193 appearances in La Liga ought to provide excellent competition, and not just be backup.
At the age of 26, Inigo Martinez is entering his prime years as a footballer. While Samuel Umtiti has shown much promise at the heart of Barcelona's defence, the Blaugrana could do with a calmer presence alongside Gerard Pique, and Martinez fits the bill. Javier Mascherano doesn't have the legs anymore to be a regular, and this would represent a clever purchase by Barcelona.