Barcelona have reportedly verbally agreed a deal for Athletic Club defender Iñigo Martínez. The center back is in the final months of his current contract with the Spanish club. He will apparently leave Bilbao as a free agent in June. ESPN is claiming that Martinez and Barca have already agreed to a deal to be completed this summer.
Club is currently in trouble with league over finances
However, the news outlet also states that the move is dependent on Barca lowering their wage bill. The Spanish giants were recently hit with a fine for breaching Financial Fair Play rules earlier in the year. Barca have a net spend of nearly $130 million during the current campaign. This also does not include player wages.
LaLiga president has informed Barca that they need to essentially raise over $160 million in funds heading into the 2023/24 season. The league has even prevented the club from registering budding star Gavi as a senior player. They can’t implement the player’s new contract until they first straighten out their financial issues.
Barcelona targeting free agents to help financial crisis
Nevertheless, Barca appear to be moving on with summer transfer plans. The club has apparently tracked Martínez for years and could not pass up the opportunity to sign the defender as a free agent. Martínez, 31, has only managed to start a dozen LaLiga matches for Athletic so far this season. He has suffered various knee and heel injuries throughout the campaign.
Along with Martínez, Barca will reportedly next target Ilkay Gündoğan. The Germany international midfielder will also be a free agent in the summer as well. Gündoğan has been a vital piece of the puzzle for manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. In fact, the German even became captain of the club following the departure of Fernandinho in 2022.
Opting to target impending free agents will surely help Barca’s financial situation. However, some current players on the books must also leave the club before any new arrivals can take place. It remains to be seen which players Barca will look to sell this summer. Although, Sergio Busquets, Iñaki Peña and Arnau Tenas are currently the only players that could leave as free agents.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Pressinphoto
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