09/03/2023 at 06:30


If fair play allows it, the favorite in FC Barcelona’s offices to reinforce the defensive axis is Iñigo Martínez. For years, the Barça entity has been thinking about a central defender with leadership and possession of the ball, but the contractual conditions will come into force this summer, since the onderroa ends his relationship with the Athletic Club and did not renew.

It hasn’t been an easy season for Iñigo. First, some discomfort in his knee, then the non-inclusion of Luis Enrique in the World Cup list and, at the beginning of the year, a plantar fasciitis that forced him to miss eleven games between LaLiga (8) and Copa del Rey (3) ).

Good response to a demanding return

There were doubts about his reappearance and the 31-year-old defender responded to the demand for a match like Sadar’s in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals. Ernesto Valverde didn’t hesitate and put him on the axis next to Dani Vivian. Yeray, with some physical discomfort, stayed on the bench.

“We needed a hierarchy to defend long balls and lateral crosses”, said the ‘Txingurri’, who again repeated the duo of central defenders last weekend in Vallecas, with even more reason due to Yeray’s suspension. Against FC Barcelona Iñigo is back in the starting line-up and the coach will have to choose his teammate.

selection and future

A good performance by Iñigo Martínez against the Catalans could give arguments to Luis de la Fuente to count on the Biscayman for his debut as Spanish coach. It will be on the 17th of March and there are five Athletic players on the pre-list: Iñigo Martínez, Unai Simón, Yeray, Nico Williams and Oihan Sancet.

At the end of the season the decision will come. In Bilbao, they still rely on a renewal that has already been rejected next week. At Barça they are convinced that he would be a great reinforcement and at San Mamés, on Sunday (21:00), he will be examined with a magnifying glass.