Javi Martinez is the missing piece in Barcelona's puzzle ahead of the 2012/13 season. I believe that adding the 24-year-old Basque midfielder to our squad would be sufficient to challenge for all titles next season - Especially after completing the transfer of speedy left-back Jordi Alba for a mere 14M€ - which, as you can read here, was an absolute bargain!
Why Barcelona Need A Central Defender
Neymar, Van Persie... The Catalan press keeps insisting on going after a big money transfer to reinforce our attack but I honestly believe that, especially after spending over 70M€ on Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas last summer, this is the time to concentrate on strengthening our defensive line.
Regular readers of my Read My Mind articles would know that I would have loved Barcelona to sign a cheap Plan B striker, with Didier Drogba being my number one choice for the job. After listening to Tito Vilanova's press conferences though, it seems clear that Guardiola's heir will opt for adding intensity to our game, rather than height or strength. While I don't think adding a new dimension to our attack would hurt (especially in those dying moments of tight matches), I wish I can be proven wrong, as that would mean further success has been achieved.
If you analyse the group of players Tito Vilanova currently has at his disposal and how those men performed last season, the conclusion is clear: Our central defense is in desperate need of new blood. Carles Puyol is a legend, a living example of how to devote a life to the Blaugrana. I feel it's imperative that El Capità gets the chance to pass on his legacy not only to Gerard Pique or Javier Mascherano, but also to this summer's signing.
Plus, don't forget: We must also consider that Tito Vilanova has already lost Seydou Keita, possibly to Dalian Aerbin of China, on a free transfer - the need to sign a defender who could also add to our midfield would be a massive bonus.
Javi Martinez, The Ideal Candidate
Javi Martinez is the ideal solution that would solve both problems. The polyvalent Basque Tower has vastly proven his worth at the highest level, with 251 appearances since his Atheltic Bilbao debut at only 17 years of age. Initially excelling as a player who could balance the transition between midfield to attacking positions with ease (scoring 26 goals in the process), Javi Martinez has been deployed in central defense since the arrival of Marcelo Bielsa to San Mames.
Javi Martinez is no stranger to success. From a very early age, the youngster has regularly been called up for the Spanish National Team, winning 3 European Championships (U19s, U21s and under Del Bosque at Euro 2012) and last, but definitely not least, the World Cup 2010 in South Africa. Plus, and despite not playing in one of Spain's Top 2 teams (Barcelona or those guys who dress in white), the 24-year-old has reached 4 finals in 6 seasons for Athletic Bilbao.
Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Pedro and the rest of the Barcelona internationals for Spain all speak wonders about the Bilbao youngster. Considering the fact that Del Bosque's preferred formation for Spain is based around the Barcelona 'pass and move' philosophy, one can assume that Javi Martinez wouldn't take too long to learn those internal mechanisms that make our game special.
Plus, it is common knowledge that The Basque Tower regularly spends most of his spare time with the Blaugranas when on duty with La Roja.
Signing Javi Martinez Won't Be Easy
Having said all of the above, Cules must be reminded that taking Javi Martinez away from Athletic Bilbao will not be an easy task. The Basque board has already announced that they have no desire to let one of his key players leave and that whoever wants to sign him must pay his 40M€ buy-out clause.
Andoni Zubizarreta, Bilbao's former sporting director, must ensure he uses his excellent relationships with the Basque president to work a bit of magic here, as the 24-year-old's massive price-tag is slightly out of reach for Barcelona at this moment in time.
Including Barcelona B keeper Oier as part of the deal could be a way to make the transfer a reality...
What We Learned
Considering what Javi Martinez has already achieved in his career, his potential and current needs of our Barcelona squad, I feel President Rosell must ensure he finds enough money to bring him to the Camp Nou this season. Even if that means selling some of our current players.
Have Your Say
What did you think of this article?
Do you feel Javi Martinez has what it takes to succeed at the Camp Nou?
Should Barcelona consider any other central defenders instead?
Which current Barcelona players would you sell to raise the funds to buy Javi Martinez?
Did I miss out on any important points you would like to share with us?
I welcome and appreciate all respectful feedback.
Posted by: Francesc Tomàs
Founder and Columnist at www.barcablog.com and ESPN Soccernet.
Join our 27,800 followers on Facebook or Twitter