Versatile Spaniard wanted at both Old Trafford and the Emirates Stadium.Arsenal and Manchester United are both reportedly watching Athletic Bilbao star Javi Martinez with a view to a bid this summer as they look to strengthen for next season, according to ESPN.
The Spanish international has impressed hugely both this season and in previous years, and has grown into quite a special talent under new manager Marcelo Bielsa – often affectionately referred to as El Loco, The Madman.
Martinez began this season as a World Cup winning midfielder, having been a part of the Spain squad that triumphed in 2010.
However, Bielsa has transformed the 23 year-old to great effect.
Previously a defensive midfielder with a keenly tuned eye for a killer pass, Martinez’s Argentinean manager has moved him back into central defence, where his 6’3″ height and excellent reading of the game can really benefit Athletic Bilbao.
Still, it is thought that both Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson would look to deploy Martinez in midfield, as both appear to be missing a true holding player in their side.
Manchester United have Phil Jones, but he appears more effective at either right back or in central defence. There also appears to be a consensus that a ball winner is needed to play alongside either of Michael Carrick or Paul Scholes – particularly in big matches.
As for Arsenal, Arsene Wenger has seen his primary holding midfielder Alex Song mature into a fine playmaker. This works when Mikel Arteta is back in the side to drop back as the deepest man, but Aaron Ramsey does not appear suited to the role, and Wenger has keenly watched the likes of Yann M’Vila.
Martinez could prove an ideal solution for either side, and his ability to drop back into defence like Sergio Busquets at Barcelona enabling his team to throw both full backs forward.
The downside for both English clubs is that he could cost upwards of £25m, and should Athletic Bilbao reach the UEFA Champions League their financial position would be significantly strengthened. What’s more, the fact that Martinez is of Basque descent means he feels a certain pride in turning out for his local club.
Luring him away could prove difficult.
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