Reports: Manchester City to hijack Barcelona's move for €62m-rated defender
Pep Guardiola is willing to pay a world record fee
What's the story?
Pep Guardiola is all set to steal away one of Barcelona's prime targets, with the Manchester City boss all set to authorize a world record fee for Real Sociedad defender, Inigo Martinez. According to reports in multiple British outlets, and in Catalan newspaper, Sport, the Premier League table-toppers are all set to tempt Sociedad with a massive bid of €62 million in January. City have been hit hard by the injury to John Stones, and with doubts over Vincent Kompany's fitness, the Sky Blues are desperate to land a central defender to ensure the campaign does not go off the rails.
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
Barcelona had all but wrapped up the signing of Inigo Martinez in the summer, having triggered his €32 million release clause, but the move fell through at the last moment, with personal terms not being agreed, coupled with Ernesto Valverde opting to keep Thomas Vermaelen as a backup defender.
The release clause has since lapsed, with Sociedad now in a strong position to negotiate their best centre-back's departure. Martinez has continued his good start to the season, with Sociedad 7th in the table.
Manchester City have been hit hard by John Stones' injury, and Kompany's nervous defensive display against Huddersfield has made up Pep Guardiola's mind that he needs to bring in another defender to play alongside Nico Otamendi, since Elaquim Mangala's ball-playing skills aren't up to scratch. Thus, the Sky Blues may end up breaking the world record fee for a defender, set by City themselves when they brought Benjamin Mendy to the club.
Pep Guardiola's need for a ball-playing centre-back has long been known, and having lost his best passer out of the back at a crucial point of the season, City simply have to reinforce. Inigo Martinez' ability with the ball ought to be a great selling point for the Premier League giants, and at the age of 26, he is all set to reach his prime.