Arnau or Iñigo, they both don’t fit in Xavi’s Barça

BarcelonaIn the matches that Barça has played after the World Cup in Qatar, the right-back position in the most demanding scenarios has been shared between two players who, on paper, are central. In the final of the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid, which is possibly the most complete performance of Xavi Hernández’s team this season, Ronald Araujo was chosen. The Uruguayan, an expert scorer, dried up the skillful Vinícius in a wing where Dembélé does not usually help too much in defensive tasks. For the League matches at the Metropolitano and the Copa del Rey with Real Sociedad, the role fell to Jules Kounde, signed for 50 million, in theory, to lead the Barça defensive axis for the next five years.

With the Frenchman and Araujo in the lineup, the team breaks less and can defend higher, with more risk. In fact, the coaching staff admit behind their backs that their absences due to injury in the month of October contributed decisively to the premature elimination in the Champions League. A fatal setback that, in turn, is costing the entity money in terms of fair play financial But beyond that, the fact that Kounde is playing as a winger in so many games is related to the non-arrival of César Azpilicueta in the last summer market. There was a hole and the sports management filled it on the last day with Héctor Bellerín, who does not convince Xavi and has played only three starting matches, two of them against Intercity and Ceuta. For his part, Sergi Roberto is read internally more as a wild card than as the footballer of reference to occupy the right lane. Despite this, the technician asks for continuity.

All of this means that Barça continues to search the transfer market to cover the shortfall. In this sense, he has control, as ARA reported a few months ago, of Arnau Martínez, defender of Girona, the team with which they will face each other this Saturday (4.15 p.m., DAZN LaLiga) in Montilivi. The 19-year-old youngster from Premia is progressing well in his debut in Primera and has a fixed price of 20 million euros, which makes it easier to leave. In addition, he has never hidden his desire to play locally at Camp Nou – he spent a few years at La Masia – and his representatives are the same ones who advised Xavi himself during his time as a player, a fact that helps because it’s about communication and proximity. At first glance, these are all advantages. But the complex economic situation of Barça, added to other needs of the staff, can condition the operation in the short term.

One of the issues that the club has to resolve is the pre-agreement it has with Iñigo Martínez to sign him on a free transfer this summer. The central player of the Athletic Club, currently injured in the foot, is an old desire that generates consensus between the sports leadership and the coaching staff. He does not want to renew with the Biscay club and fits the lack of a 100% left-wing central in the squad. The will remains intact to the point that sources in the sports area assure ARA that the contract extension of Marcos Alonso, who has adapted to the position, has nothing to do with Iñigo’s future in the Camp Nou The drawback with Ondarroa’s, therefore, is the usual one: the skyrocketing wage bill in relation to a downward income forecast, the two scales with which, broadly speaking, the famous fair play financial A stone in the shoe that would also affect Arnau, but that in the case of the Maresmen defender could be postponed by signing him now and leaving him on loan for another season in Girona.

The Lenglet card, ready for Barça to manufacture financial ‘fair play’

In planning the defense for next season, and as long as there are no sudden casualties, Barça must choose between Martínez and Martínez. He has the option of devoting efforts to enrolling Iñigo, a veteran footballer – 32 years old – and specific who guarantees immediate performance, would arrive for free and impact in the middle of the salary scale; or he can follow the path of betting already on Arnau, a young man with a fixed price and projection who, in return, would allow Kounde to return to the central axis of the defense, which is where he wants to play. Now, both one thing and the other will go after fulfilling the renewals of Gavi and Araujo, the alpha priority of the sports management, however little salary margin can be obtained in exchange for extraordinary income.

Along these lines, this newspaper has been able to confirm that Clément Lenglet will act as leverage. He is on loan at Tottenham and the technicians do not count, so the Londoners are expected to pay between 10 and 15 million euros to keep him in their possession. And if not, they will make it easier for him to leave. The French defender is a regular in Antonio Conte’s lineups and, should he stay with the spurs or if he is transferred to another team, he will release a high fee – increasing, as he signed with Bartomeu before he resigned – and will leave a small surplus in the coffers of the club that bet on him five summers ago, when the covid had not yet had arrived and Ernesto Valverde was the local coach at Camp Nou.



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