Considering Barcelona's incredible depth in the midfield, it stands to reason that they might be willing to move one of their talented attackers. That appears to be the case with Dutchman Ibrahim Afellay, and it would be a smart move on Barca's part in order to open up funds to make a run at a difference maker.
According to Vittorio Campanile of Goal.com, the Barcelona brass has told Afellay that his services are no longer needed and he has been offered to both Inter Milan and Arsenal. The 26-year-old playmaker showed great promise at PSV Eindhoven, and although he didn't have many opportunities to shine with the Catalans, he could thrive elsewhere.
Afellay earned 35 caps with Barcelona over parts of two seasons and finished with just two goals and one assist. That shouldn't come as a huge surprise with Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andre Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and other dominating the midfield for Barca. With that said, Barcelona can afford to beef up defensively, and that is where a potential transfer of Afellay comes into play.
Campanile believes that an offer of €6 million would be enough for Inter or Arsenal to pry Afellay away from Barcelona and that would also open up enough financial relief for Barca to make a run at Athletic Bilbao defensive midfielder and center-back Javi Martinez.
Should Barca sell off Ibrahim Afellay?
Martinez signed with Athletic Bilbao as a 17-year-old prior to the 2006-07 season and he has made great strides ever since. Martinez is now 23 years of age and has developed into a bona-fide star. His statistics won't jump off the page as he has never tallied more than seven goals and two assists in a single La Liga season, but his ability to disarm opposing attacks is invaluable.
If Afellay were to remain on the squad, then I doubt Barcelona would have the means to make a run at Martinez. Both Inter and Arsenal obviously are interested in Afellay, though, so I would expect something to happen on that front fairly soon. Once that domino falls, then Barca will be in prime position to make its move for the promising Martinez.
Barcelona had a fine season last year, but it was nipped by Real Madrid for the La Liga title. Normally second place would be considered a success, but anything short of a championship is considered a disappointment for Barca. Scoring wasn't a problem for Barcelona in the least, but there were entirely too many defensive lapses over the course of the season.
Martinez would make up for a lot of that as he is big, strong on the ball and good positionally. For as much talent as Afellay has, Martinez is simply a much better option when you consider where Barcelona's deficiencies lie. Ultimately, this entire situation should work out for all involved as Afellay will receive more playing time and Barca will get the monetary breathing room it needs.
It is very clear that Barcelona isn't far away from winning the La Liga title and it may be able to do so without even making a single move, but shipping out Afellay and bringing Martinez aboard is only going to make Barca better.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter