The center-back position is one Barcelona seem to have all but buttoned up as Iñigo Martínez has signed for the LaLiga champions on a free transfer.
The 32-year-old joins the Catalan side following a spell at Athletic Bilbao.
“An agreement has been reached between FC Barcelona and Iñigo Martínez for the player to join the Club after his contract with Athletic Bilbao ended,” read the club statement.
“The player is set to sign a two-year deal that ends on June 30, 2025, with the release clause set at 400 million euro.”
The statement also goes on to highlight Martínez leadership, aerial prowess and that he is another left-footed option for Xavi Hernandez.
Martínez has been a player Barcelona were tracking for quite some time. He was linked with a move during Ernesto Valverde’s tenure as manager. Valverde ended up being the manager for Athletic Bilbao in what turned out to be Martínez’s final season.
“I come with a lot of enthusiasm to give everything I have,” Martínez said. “Joining this great club means a lot to me. I finally took the leap that any player would want.”
At the very least, his signing adds depth to an already strong position. Ronald Araújo, Andreas Christensen and Jules Koundé are all first choice starters with the latter being deployed mostly at right-back. This meant Xavi’s only back-up was Eric Garcia and, in an emergency, Marcos Alonso.
Garcia has struggled and has been linked with a move away. Martínez is likely to slot as fourth-choice but someone Xavi is likely to have more confidence in.
Last season, during some important Champions League fixtures, Barcelona were without at least one of their three starting center-backs at a time and their defense struggled. The idea behind his signing is the drop off won’t be as significant as it was prior.