Barcelona have made a habit of signing free agents in recent transfer windows, largely due to their difficult financial situation, and will continue that theme in summer 2023.
Athletic defender Inigo Martinez will become Barcelona’s first summer signing after arriving on a free transfer from the Basque side, as reported by transfer expert Fabrizio Romano.
Martinez has posted a farewell to Athletic on Twitter after five years with the club and will sign a two-year deal at the Camp Nou. The 32-year-old is a vastly experienced center-back who also boasts 20 international caps with Spain.
The defender has been spotted in Barcelona by La Sexta’s Josep Soldado and has already signed his contract with the club. Only the club’s official announcement is now missing.
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Why Have Barcelona Signed Inigo Martinez?
Barcelona’s decision to bring in Martinez may raise a few eyebrows given the team are coming off the back of a stellar season defensively. Xavi’s side conceded just 20 goals in La Liga in 2022-23, while goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen equalled the league record for clean sheets with 26.
Yet Barcelona do lack some experience in their backline, particularly after seeing Gerard Pique retire from football at the end of 2022. Jules Kounde and Ronald Araujo are key players but are both still only 24, while Eric Garcia only turned 22 earlier this year.
All three players, and Andreas Christensen, are also right-footed which is another reason why Martinez has been targeted. Xavi has wanted to bring in a left-footed defender after allowing Clement Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti to leave on loan, as reported by Sport.
Barcelona Set For Busy Summer
Martinez could be the first signing of a busy summer for Barcelona. La Liga have given the green light to the club’s viability plan which means the Catalans can now get their transfer plans underway, according to ESPN.
The Catalans will first register new contracts for Ronald Araujo, Gavi, Sergi Roberto, Inaki Pena and Marcos Alonso. The club also want to reward teenager Alejandro Balde with a new deal after an impressive breakthrough campaign.
Barcelona will then turn their attentions to signings and continue to pursue a deal for Lionel Messi. The club legend’s father has admitted this week that he has met with president Joan Laporta to discuss a potential return, as reported by Sport.
Xavi has spoken about the possibility of Messi coming back following his team’s final game of the season, a post-season friendly in Japan against Vissel Kobe, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
“The situation is in the hands of the president and Leo’s father, therefore, we’ll see, we’ll see how it ends, but in the end Leo has the upper hand,” he told reporters. “We are happy, for the moment we have the OK to the feasibility plan of La Liga and now, to get going, get down to work and strengthen ourselves, which we need.”
Xavi has also said previously that his top priority this summer is to bring in a replacement for Sergio Busquets. The captain announced he will leave at the end of the season after his contract expires.