By Tony Attwood
I recently quoted the Daily Mirror in which they said we were signing Vertonghen. Not everyone screamed with laughter when I wrote this, so on the basis that the Mirror is really in tune with this sort of thing, here’s another of their tips: Athletic Bilbao’s Javier Martínez.
He is 23, he’s a Basque, he’s an “intelligent ball player” who can play either central defence or in the holding midfield role. He will cost £20 million give or take.
Now the talk down in the Depths of Despair (a public house frequented by journalists) it is said that Alex Song is off to Juve (just cos they want him, and he is fed up with no winning things – you know the usual guff), and so Martinez is the man. He is “more disciplined” than Alex.
But even if Alex stays we will have Martinez (so they say in the Depths) because then he could move forwards.
Now that raises all sorts of questions about Rosicky and Ramsey – plus the fact that against Wigan we suddenly saw Oxlade-Chamberlain play in deep defensive midfield. That was a surprise for me. (Maybe you already knew about it, but I didn’t).
So, what about him Martínez? He went to Athletic as a 17 year old from Osasuna and became a first team regular player at 17/18 and then became an ever-present player – the sort that men in the Depths call a “midfield engine”.
But Athetic don’t win things and don’t regularly get into the European competitions – so he might want to move. Also he has been playing as a central defender and might like to venture onwards a bit.
He has played for the Spain under 17s, 19s, 21s and for the full team – the latter mostly in friendlies or as a sub – generally moving back and forth between the under 21 and full side – he played in the 2011 under 21 squad that won the Euro Championship.
He now has seven full caps and 21 under 21 caps. He has played 180 times for Bilbao and scored 20 goals.