Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has guided his team to the top of La Liga heading into the World Cup 2022 break but is already thinking about how to strengthen his side ahead of the January transfer window.
Xavi “already had his eye” on Girona right-back Arnau Martinez, according to Manuel Sainz at Diario AS. The 19-year-old came through Barcelona’s La Masia academy where he was known as the “little boss.”
The nickname came about due to the fact that Martinez’s idol at Barcelona was none other than Javier Mascherano. The Argentine legend was also known as ‘Jefecito’ which translates as ‘the little boss.’
Martinez has a contract until 2025 at La Liga side Girona and a termination clause set at €20 million. However, the teenager has also attracted interest from Premier League clubs as well as other Spanish sides.
The defender has played 11 times in La Liga this season, scoring twice and picking up an assist for Girona. Martinez also caught the eye when Girona took on Real Madrid, as he did a great job up against Vinicius Junior in a 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu.
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Girona Boss Talks Martinez Rumors
Girona coach Michel Sanchez is well aware there is interest from the Catalan giants in his teenage defender. Sanchez has been asked about the speculation and is hoping the defender will not leave in January, as reported by Diario Sport.
“It’s a compliment for the kid, but I hope he spends more time with us,” he said. “It’s good to talk about one but you have to keep improving and with your feet on the ground.”
Right-back has been an issue for Barcelona for some time now. Club legend Dani Alves returned last season and played regularly at right-back but was released in the summer after his contract expired.
Sergi Roberto and Hector Bellerin are Xavi’s top options this season but injuries have meant that left-back Alejandro Balde has also played on the right, while center-backs Ronald Araujo and Jules Koude have also featured in the position.
Barcelona Set For Busy January?
Barcelona spent heavily in the summer but could be active again when the transfer window reopens. The departure of Gerard Pique has freed up space on the wage bill which could be utilized.
The Catalans may also invest in the winter because there are “fears they could be forced to work under tighter financial restrictions again next summer,” according to ESPN.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has already warned Barca’s spending limit could be reduced at the end of the season. Barca sold off assets in the summer of 2022 as part of a series of “financial levers” which helped the club sign Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde, and Raphinha.
However, Tebas has already warned Barcelona that they will be unable to use financial levers again in the summer of 2023 and must instead find a way to reduce their wage bill.