Interviews

Let’s Talk: Iñigo Martinez, the Spain defender well suited to Pep’s style (with Breaking the Lines)

As the January transfer window looms ever closer, the rumour mill cogs start to turn, and with that Manchester City are normally linked with dozens of players. One of these players is Real Sociedad defender Iñigo Martinez. On Tuesday, Spanish outlets reported that Manchester City intend to sign the centre-back for his release clause of €30,000,000, which backs up stories from other sources.

Some will claim to be La Liga experts, but most City fans will not be wise on Iñigo Martinez. For this reason, I caught up with Marcus from football opinion site Breaking the Lines to ask him to enlighten me on who Martinez is, what his play style is, and whether he would be a good signing or not.

Cheers for talking to us – could you first inform our readers who don’t know, what is Breaking The Lines about and what do you and the rest of the team do?

Cheers for having me on! Breaking The Lines is a unique football site with quality content straight through. Zach Lowy and Thomas Anderson are the brains behind and have built a network of regularly contributing writers from all around the world, that’s where I’ve stepped in. Breaking The Lines’ credo, which you can find on the site, is very telling; we aim to educate football fans worldwide with specially curated opinions and analysis, delicately presented.

Many City fans will not be aware of Iñigo Martinez, could you start by giving them a brief profile of who he is?

Iñigo Martinez is a 26-year-old centre-back born and raised in Ondarroa, a small village in the Basque Country, and has played for Real Sociedad since the age of 18. He broke into the first team two years later and has been an important part of it since. Injuries have disturbed his rhythm this season but his impact on the team is undoubtedly. ‘La Real’s’ record without Martinez is 5-1-5 and 19 conceded while the record with Martinez is 5-3-1 with 9 conceded, quite a difference. Martinez made his international debut for Spain in 2013 but has only appeared three more times until this day, he is often overlooked in favour for the likes of Raúl Albiol, Nacho, Marc Bartra and Javi Martínez. His latest cap came in November 2016 against England.

On to his play style – how would he fit into a Pep Guardiola side? What traits and abilities do you think he has that makes him a Guardiola player?

As a product of Spanish football his standout quality is pretty much what you expect from a Spanish centre-back; great on the ball. That together with the low fee, reportedly €30M, makes him a very reasonable and likely target for Pep. In addition to his great on-the-ball ability he is an all-round centre-back with decent positioning, tackles and pace. His height is often mentioned in discussions about him, 1.81 is not a lot for a central defender but he makes up for it by his great reading of the game and timing in the air. It’s hard to find specific weaknesses but his inconsistency has been a slight problem over the years, even though it has changed to the better. In periods he has been one of the very best defenders in La Liga, more often than rarely. His versatility should be mentioned as well and is definitely a trait that makes him a Guardiola kind of player. He can easily embrace the role of a left back and even a defensive midfielder if needed, even tough the latter isn’t very likely.

Stones and Otamendi has been a formidable partnership thus far this season, is Iñigo Martinez similar to those players (which isn’t a bad thing) or will he bring something new?

He is similar to those players and it’s pretty obvious that it’s the kind of centre-back profile Pep is opting for, fairly agile players with decent to great on-the-ball qualities. The only obvious “new” thing he will bring is a great left foot, and not only in build-up. The people at Anoeta, Real Sociedad’s home stadium, have witnessed a few spectacular goals from Iñigo Martinez in the course of the last years.

Finally, given his age, the fact he is left-footed and his relatively cheap price tag in this market, is he the right man to replace Eliaquim Mangala in City’s list of defenders?

That’s exactly what I’d say he is. Martinez isn’t a world-class centre-back in any sense but would be a decent squad player for Manchester City and Pep Guardiola. He fits the profile of a Pep defender and he has experience from top-flight football, both domestically in Spain but also from European competitions and at international level.

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