Athletic Bilbao 'Can Easily Raise €20M for Javi Martinez,' Says Club President

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2019

MUNICH,GERMANY - MARCH 13: Javi Martinez of Bayern Muenchen warms up prior to during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Second Leg match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Liverpool at Allianz Arena on March 13, 2019 in Munich, Bavaria. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Athletic Bilbao president Aitor Elizegi is confident the club can afford to re-sign Javi Martinez from Bayern Munich. 

The 30-year-old left Athletic for Bayern in 2012 in a €40 million deal, and Elizegi said they can bring him back for half the price.

He told Mundo Deportivo (h/t Goal's Chris Burton): "Athletic can easily raise €20 million for Javi Martinez, and we have the capacity to pay the price. So from an economic point of view, that would not be a problem."

Martinez seems to be receptive to a move, as he told Kicker (h/t Burton): "Bilbao is a paradise. I have many friends there, and I cannot deny that I will one day return there."

Athletic's policy of only signing players from the Basque region means they have a limited pool of players to choose from.

As such, it's of little surprise they're looking to bring back their former players, particularly in the case of Martinez, who is among the best the region has produced in recent years.

Martinez typically sits in front of the back four and excels at using his strength and physicality to break up opposing counter-attacks.

He did just that in Bayern's 0-0 draw at Liverpool in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Javi Martínez's game by numbers vs. Liverpool: 58 touches 6 interceptions 4 clearances 3 fouls won 2 chances created 2 tackles won 1 shot 1 block 1 clean sheet Disruptive display in the middle of the park. 🚧 https://t.co/65KThfusoz

Though Munich lost 3-1 to the Reds on home soil, football statistician Dave O'Brien picked out Martinez as a key player for the return leg: 

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Javi Martinez has averaged more interceptions per game (3.6) than any other player in the Champions League this season. Would be key to a Bayern victory tonight. 🔑🔑🔑 https://t.co/Ex4TbUB9Ss

Football writer Jack Lang is an admirer of the Spaniard's work rate:

Jack Lang @jacklang

If I had to pick an elite footballer to work on my hypothetical farm, I would pick Javi Martínez

He's a versatile operator, too, as he's similarly comfortable playing as a centre-back.

Martinez has won all there is to win at Bayern, including six Bundesliga titles, three DFB-Pokals and the UEFA Champions League, so there wouldn't be any unfinished business if he were to leave.

He'll be 31 this year, too, and often has to deal with niggling injuries, so the Bavarian outfit could be tempted to cash in on him.