After failing to sign Sevilla center-back Jules Koundé, Barcelona has immediately shifted gears and is in discussions with Athletic Bilbao for 31-year-old defender Iñigo Martinez, according to numerous Spanish media sources.
According to Basque writer Jose Manuel Monje, Barça sports director Mateu Alemany has been in touch with Athletic president Jon Uriarte to begin discussions, and the Blaugrana have already negotiated personal terms on a four-year contract with the player.
Iñigo has one year remaining on his contract and would be transferred for a lesser transfer price than his rumored €80 million release clause, and the player has informed Bilbao that this is his only opportunity to earn a huge deal and play for a major European side, and he would want the club to help him go. Athletic are apparently seeking €60 million, although the player’s desire might significantly reduce the price.
Martinez started his career at Real Sociedad before joining Athletic four years ago. He has been one of the most underappreciated and dependable defenders in Spanish football for over a decade. He is left-footed and has the talent to fit well into Xavi Hernández’s system, and this may be a bargain if Barça can work out a deal with Athletic.