Villa paired with interest in Spanish centre-half

Aston Villa are reportedly keeping tabs on Inigo Martinez’s future as speculation links him with a departure from Athletic Bilbao this summer.

The 31-year-old is an experienced defender having racked up over 400 appearances in La Liga between spells with Athletic and Real Sociedad prior to that, while he’s played in Europe and has 19 caps for Spain.

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However, he seemingly faces an uncertain future with his current contract set to expire this summer, and according to Sport, Villa are one of a number of clubs who are keen to take advantage of the situation and land him on a free transfer.

The report notes that signing a renewal with Athletic is highly unlikely at this stage, and while a move to Barcelona appears to be his preference and the probable outcome, their financial issues are making it difficult to get the agreement officially over the line.

That in turn has opened the door for Villa and Atletico Madrid to swoop in, while it’s suggested that we could have an edge in a potential battle for his signature as we could offer him a ‘favourable financial proposal’.

Time will tell if that does indeed push us up the pecking order in terms of the most attractive proposal that Martinez receives this summer, but he’s no doubt a player that Unai Emery knows well having come up against him during his spells in Spain and he will be clear on what he could add to his current squad.

Villa are light in that area of the group and as we saw again this past weekend, the absence of Tyrone Mings is a problem for us and so an improvement on the quality of the competition and depth in defence is needed.

Emery will hope that Diego Carlos proves to be a key figure for him when he returns from injury later this month, and that will give him another crucial option alongside Mings and Ezri Konsa.

Question marks remain over Calum Chambers after another shaky performance on Sunday, albeit it would have been difficult for him making his first Premier League start since August against a top side like Man City, but Martinez could be an important addition if a swoop from Villa materialises.

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