In the midst of a succession of half-truths, Athletic announces, at the same time as Iñigo Martínez (Ondarroa, 32 years old), that their paths are parting ways after six seasons. Possibly, the destination of the international center will be FC Barcelona, if the salary limit that La Liga imposes on the Barça club allows him to register.
The Bilbao club, in its farewell note to the player, assures that Iñigo is leaving, "after different attempts at negotiation in the last two seasons", which is still true, but which also corresponds to the story that circulates in the environment close to the player, that the last offer was received from the previous president, Aitor Elizegi, and that the current one, Jon Uriarte, apart from considering in the electoral campaign, that the renewal of the player was a priority issue, has not moved any tab to try to retain him.
The player's environment has not been long in coming to respond and deny the club: "From the environment of Iñigo Martínez we want to categorically deny that the current board of Athletic Club de Bilbao has presented any offer to the player, not even assuming the point of the negotiation in which the previous Board of Directors had stayed. The player has NEVER rejected an offer from the club, because such an offer has not existed. We attend with astonishment and disbelief the communication of the club, in what we understand is a dishonest act to avoid responsibilities. We also want to convey the player's discomfort in this situation, since he has never wanted to destabilize or harm the club."
In fact, the last data in this regard, was provided by information from the newspaper Deia, which spoke of a telephone conversation with the representative of Iñigo Martínez just a month ago, when the pre-agreement with Barcelona was already signed. That is, there was movement in the last two seasons, as pointed out by the note of Athletic, but one in charge of the previous president and another when the situation was already irreversible.
Among the half-truths about the Martínez case can also be pointed out the president's statement to Telebilbao, in an interview he gave in September 2022 and in which he said: "I have not spoken to anyone from Barça about Iñigo", which was true, since Uriarte referred to the emissaries of the Barça club, that at that time they made an offer of 15 million euros plus five in variables, to the general director of Athletic, Jon Berasategui, who was the one who rejected the proposal made by Mateu Alemany.
At the time, the president stated that, "I have no problem talking to the players in any renewal. If there is a player that we try to retain and he leaves it will be a disappointment, not a failure because it also influences whether that person wants to stay or not, the salary capacity to compete and personal conditions. "
Eskerrik asko, athleticzales.
Thank you, fans. ❤️🦁 pic.twitter.com/OIwFRSONvP
— Iñigo Martinez (@InigoMartinez) June 6, 2023
However, the intention of Uriarte has not been reflected on this occasion, despite the fact that, anecdotally, president and footballer have been neighbors of stairs in a building in the center of Bilbao in which both resided. The obsession of the president is to balance the financial parameters of the club, which has liquidity thanks to a provident fund created by president Josu Urrutia after collecting the termination clauses of Javi Martínez, Ander Herrera, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Aymeric Laporte, and that has been dwindling to stay at around 70 million euros due to the high expenditure on sports personnel in recent years.
Within this balance plan, the departure of Iñigo, despite the aesthetic attempts of the farewell note, is a relief for the coffers of Athletic, which paid around nine million euros gross for his annual tab. Another amount could also be saved by the departure of Raul Garcia, who has not yet received any communication about his situation, despite the fact that his contract ends on June 30. Lightening the payroll is essential, according to the club, to face other renovations such as that of Nico Williams.
Iñigo Martínez arrived at Athletic as a coup d'état, in January 2018, a few days after Manchester City paid the 65 million euros of Aymeric Laporte's buyout clause. In a swift move, Josu Urrutia paid the €32 million contained in Iñigo's contract with Real Sociedad. Since that time, he has played 177 games for Athletic, and has been one of the team's most important assets. In the last campaign, in which he has chained various injuries, he has barely played 15 games. He missed the last stretch of the season and the team accused him, with the second worst streak in its history, which has left him out of Europe.
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