Everyone accepts that one of Barcelona’s main needs this summer is a central defender. With Carles Puyol battered and ageing (though he should make a full recovery) and Gerard Pique’s attitude questioned at the end of the season, the team was forced into a make-shift defense for key matches and the results were not pretty.
Javi Martinez is a prime candidate – effusively praised in a recent piece from Graham Hunter. Martinez has demonstrated his quality with big-time performances against Spain’s top teams and, of course, Manchester United. A relentless tackler and ball-chaser who can also pass his way out of the back, he is also a perfect fit for Barcelona’s style. The best part is he can play as a midfielder or defender. This would give Barcelona two players – in Martinez and Javier Mascherano – that are flexible enough to shift between and during games. Mascherano is probably better as a midfielder, Martinez as a defender.
The sums being discussed for the 23-year old are already eye-popping. It would be hard to prise him away from Athletic Bilbao for anything less than €25mn. But Barcelona would be wise to act soon. Since Puyol is unavailable for the Euro, Martinez will start for Spain. A good run there and his value will almost certainly increase – perhaps to €40mn, which seems like a silly price to pay for a central defender.
The kicker is that if things do not go well for Martinez at the Euro Championships, his value will not drop. His body of work is impossible to refute. Therefore, buyers would do well to close the deal before the tournament. It's a simple game theory argument.
Fernando Torres, Kun Aguero, David Villa, and David Silva all waited a couple years before making their move to an upper-upper-echelon team.
Posted by: Andrew, Columnist at 'Futbolaholic'