Barcelona have agreement in principle with Pique successor

FT Desk
  • FT Desk
  • 22 Sep 2022 14:26 BST
  • 3 min read
FT Desk 22 Sep 2022 14:26 BST 3 min read
Gerard Pique, Barcelona, 2022/23

This could be Gerard Pique's final season at Barcelona, and the club have already lined up his replacement in central defence.

Inigo Martinez has been identified as the man to full Pique's significant boots at Camp Nou, with the Atletico Madrid man reported to have already agreed terms on a move at the end of the season.

Pique's Barca contract will expire next summer if he doesn't play in 35 per cent of the available games in the current campaign, and with Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia dominating the central defensive spots, things don't look good for the 35-year-old.

Andreas Christensen and Jules Kounde have also arrived from Chelsea and Sevilla respectively, and Pique's days look numbered.

"There is an agreement in place between Barca and the Basque defender's agents," report Spanish sports daily Mundo Deportivo. "In principle, he should arrive at Camp Nou next summer. There is a verbal understanding between the parties that they will be united in 2023, provided Martinez is a free agent."

Martinez's contract with Bilbao expires next June, but the Basques are also keen to tie down a player who has made 161 appearances with them since joining in a €32 million deal from Real Sociedad in 2018.

How good is Martinez?

Martinez might seem like a strange player for Barcelona fans to get excited about, but at 31 he remains four year's Pique's junior, and, crucially for Xavi, he is left-footed.

Each of Pique, Eric, Araujo, Christensen and Kounde prefer their right foot, and Martinez would bring some welcome balance to Barca's back-line.

A regular for Spain, Martinez has averaged more than five clearances per game in La Liga over the last year, and contributed three goals from centre-back for Bilbao last term, with his one shot per game avarege among the highest for centre-backs league-wide.

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