FC Barcelona continues to strengthen its roster ahead of its new campaign. After signing Lewandowski, Raphinha, Franck Kessie, and Andreas Christensen, the Catalans are ready to pen deals with Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Athletic Bilbao’s Inigo Martinez.
Total agreement for Azpilicueta
Barcelona is in the final stages of talks with Chelsea for Azpilicueta. The Blaugrana will pay $5 million for the Spanish defender, including bonuses. Barca already has an agreement on personal terms with Azpilicueta for a two-year contract that includes the possibility of a third. Chelsea’s firm “Yes” to the deal depends on Jules Kounde’s arrival from Sevilla.
The Frenchman is closer to Stamford Bridge by the day. Chelsea promised Azpilicueta that his exit will happen in a matter of days, with the player pushing to start training in the United States alongside his new teammates as soon as possible. The 32-year-old isn’t the last Chelsea player who Barcelona wants to transfer this summer. Marcos Alonso is also on the radar, but Barca won’t focus on him until next week, Sport.es reports.
Inigo Martinez, the ideal alternative to Kounde
Barcelona tried going after Kounde, but couldn’t match Chelsea’s offer. Inigo Martinez was fast identified as the perfect replacement. The 31-year-old has agreed to personal terms with Barcelona and is waiting for Athletic’s green light to seal his move. According to Sport.es, Martinez will sign a four-year contract once he’s given Athletic’s approval. He first came close to playing for Barcelona in 2017 when he went house hunting in the city, but ended up staying at Real Sociedad. Martinez signed with Athletic Bilbao a year later and has been an essential player for the team ever since.
Martinez is a 19-time Spanish international and has almost 400 matches in the Spanish La Liga.
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How will Barcelona do in the new season?
The bookies predict a tight title race in La Liga this year. Real is just ahead in the odds’ race at +110, with Barcelona behind at +140. Atletico Madrid is third at +550.
In the Champions League, Barcelona isn’t seen as a top favorite. The Catalans only sit seventh in the pre-tournament rankings at +1400. Manchester City tops the list at +275, followed by Liverpool at +500 and Paris Saint-Germain at +600. Last season’s champions, Real Madrid, are fifth at +1100.