Manchester United Transfers: Scouting Report for Javi Martinez
The Red Devils are certainly in need of midfield reinforcements this summer as a lack of creativity from the central position has been their Achilles' heel this season.
Martinez would be expensive—that's a given. But is he worth the £30-40 million fee?
Here is a scouting report on the Spanish midfielder, detailing what you need to know about him as a player.
Name: Javier Martinez Aguinaga
Position: Defensive midfield, central midfield and central defence
Club History: Osasuna (youth), Athletic Bilbao (2006-present)
Signed for €6 million at 17 years of age, Martinez had a lot of football to play with plenty of opinion to sway.
His debut season was good and he's only gotten better. The multi-million euro fee looks like a bargain now as the young midfielder has a FIFA World Cup winner medal in his cabinet at home.
FIFA World Cup 2010 (Spain)
UEFA U-21 European Championships 2011
UEFA U-19 European Championships 2007
Copa del Rey 2009 (Athletic Bilbao)
Supercopa de Espana 2009
To Be Determined
UEFA Europa League 2012 Finalist (Athletic Bilbao vs. Atletico Madrid)
Copa del Rey 2012 Finalist (Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona)
One huge asset to have in today's game is versatility. Javi Martinez, traditionally viewed as a defensive anchor or Andrea Pirlo style deep-lying playmaker, has been utilised as a central defender in 22 of 30 La Liga games this season.
This is a byproduct of Marcelo Bielsa's "un enganche y tres punta"—a formation that demands ball-playing centre-backs.
Being a defensive midfielder first, tackling is in his DNA. Along with his height, this is a major reason why he is a success in defence. He records 3.2 successful tackles per league game.
Positioning and Awareness
Even before he learnt an entirely new position, Martinez's awareness on the field was second to none. His conversion to centre-back has only heightened this obvious strength as he records an average of 5.3 interceptions per game.
It's pretty rare that Javi Martinez will have an off day.
If anyone was doubting the influence this young Spaniard has on a team, just watch the highlights of Athletic Bilbao's first-leg performance against Sporting in the UEFA Europa League semifinal.
The team never got going, the midfield was lethargic and there was no one to start an attack. In the second leg, with Martinez back in the side, Bilbao bossed the game and created enough chances to bag 10 goals.
Short- and Long-Range Passing
Martinez is gifted when it comes to playing the ball. He's a prototypical modern day Spanish midfielder who can play his way out of trouble, knock it off short or hit it long with unerring accuracy.
He plays an average of 5.7 accurate long balls per game—most of which are straight to Fernando Llorente's chest—showing fantastic ability to find his man.
In terms of the short game, he averages 48.6 passes per game (1,629 in total) with an 84.2 percent completion rate. He could improve slightly here.
Javi Martinez is not perfect, but he's not that far off being one of the best in the business. This is the reason it will cost £30-40 million to prise him from Athletic Bilbao.
No player is flawless though, and the Spaniard does have one questionable trait worth highlighting.
Mobility and Agility
Martinez is well-rounded thanks to Marcelo Bielsa's use of him as a central defender. His heading skills have improved tenfold and he is very strong considering his age.
The one area of weakness is his agility. He is not a dynamic mover and struggles on the turn and in recovery. He looks quicker than he actually is at Bilbao, but that's only because Fernando Amorebieta and Ander Iturraspe are even slower.
In a season where direct, mobile midfielders have received heaps of praise (i.e. Ramires of Chelsea), it appears no such plaudits could be placed upon Martinez's shoulders.
Comparing Across Manchester United's Midfield
When looking at Javi Martinez's next move, you need to see where he will fit in his new team.
There's no doubt about it, Sir Alex Ferguson will have been chewing at light speed whilst watching this young star rip his side to shreds in the UEFA Europa League this season.
It is impossible to compare Martinez to Manchester United's midfield statistically due to the fact he has been played as a central defender.
You can say, however, that with Anderson not performing, Paul Scholes' future up in the air and Tom Cleverley a project, the Athletic Bilbao playmaker would be a welcome addition.
He naturally plays a little deeper than United's typically flat(ish) midfield four, but he's perfectly comfortable in a pure central midfield role.
He would likely become the conductor and heartbeat of Fergie's midfield.
Comparing Across the Board
Javi Martinez plays a crucial role in Athletic Bilbao's side and could slot into almost any team in the world—at defensive midfield.
He is not a player who could play centre-back for most teams. He benefits from Marcelo Bielsa's curious 3-3-1-3 formation, playing the lead role as a surging, creative defender.
As a pure defensive midfielder, Martinez will succeed anywhere. His passing is good enough for him to play for Barcelona, his physicality imposing enough for him to slot in at Stoke City.
As stated before, he is a well-rounded player and if Premier League clubs are looking at him, they're looking to put him in midfield.
There aren't many players like him due to the fact that No. 6 role in midfield has changed dramatically over the years. When he plays in his natural role, he is akin to Daniele De Rossi and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
At central defence, he is unique. He is not a surging defender like David Luiz because he offers even more going forward. In a flat midfield four, he could take over Scholes' role or fill in at the creative hole.
Conclusion and Value
Transfermarkt.co.uk values Javi Martinez at €22 million.
This valuation isn't far off what he is genuinely worth, but with Athletic Bilbao's inability to replace him, they will hold out for even more.
If he goes, he's going for €30 million or more and he's worth it—providing he goes to the right team and they play him where he's happiest and most effective.