Although FC Barcelona is still the heavy favourite to acquire Athletic Club defender Inigo Martinez, reports indicate that Aston Villa is also interested in acquiring his services.
El Desmarque reports that Unai Emery is interested in the Bilbao centre-back Gerardo Martinez, who is expected to depart Athletic as a free agent at the conclusion of the current campaign and is being pursued by Barcelona, Villa, and Athletico Madrid.
Martinez has been one of the league’s most reliable defenders for almost a decade, excelling at centre back for both Athletic and their Basque rivals Real Sociedad over that time period (2011-2018). At this point, though, it seems that the footballer will be leaving northern Spain.
According to the source, Gerard Pique’s retirement from football earlier this season has left Barcelona short in the back, therefore Xavi Hernandez wants to sign the defensive rock as a short-term substitute.
Undoubtedly, Martinez would be a wonderful addition for Barcelona, but with Villa now in the running for the defender, the La Liga leaders may have to compete with the Premier League to grab the 31-year-old, who may be tempted by a transfer to England as his last major career move.
With Emery now in charge of Villa, the Spaniard has the gravitas to entice Martinez to Villa Park, where he might become an amazing free-agent acquisition for the Birmingham club.
The riches of Premier League teams was on full display in the January transfer window when English sides set a new spending record that left the rest of Europe in the dust. As a result, Villa may have an advantage over Barcelona this summer in signing Martinez.
Villa Park may easily get Martinez despite the competition, as they can meet the defender’s expectations and perhaps surpass what Barcelona are giving. We know that Emery’s team already has the draw of both the manager himself and the chance of playing in the Premier League.