Arsenal make approach to Bayern Munich for transfer of Javi Martinez
Arsenal have made an enquiry to Bayern Munich for Javi Martinez, with Arsene Wenger having made a new central midfielder one of his two key transfer priorities this summer.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender is also prominent among Arsenal’s midfield targets but, with Martinez having struggled to command a regular place in Pep Guardiola’s new Bayern team, Wenger wants to know whether the Bundesliga champions would be willing to sell.
Martinez, who was part of the Spain squad that won both the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship, only joined Bayern two years ago in what was a club record £32 million deal. He still has a further three years remaining on his contract at Bayern but sources in Germany have suggested that the 25-year-old is unhappy with his role under Guardiola. Martinez was one of the first names on the team-sheet when Bayern won their treble in 2012-13 under Jupp Heynckes but did not start either Champions League semi-final match against Real Madrid.
Despite Martinez’s own preference for midfield, Guardiola has also experimented with him in the centre-back role he once played for Atletico Bilbao. Martinez himself has admitted that his role has “changed somewhat” this season. “I don’t have as much freedom on the field anymore,” he said. “I don’t get forward as often and my game is a little more static. The coach [Guardiola] believes that I can play in any of the central positions and I’ll play where I’m needed.”
Although Mikel Arteta has performed with admirable consistency over these past three seasons, Wenger wants to add a commanding midfield presence this summer to play alongside Aaron Ramsey, who has been his outstanding player.
Vicente del Bosque, the Spain manager, has compared Martinez's style to former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira. Bayern are unlikely to contemplate selling Martinez at a loss even if he is peripheral to Guardiola’s plans. Bender is another Germany-based player who interests Wenger and, although he might be slightly cheaper than Martinez, would still cost around £25 million.
Wenger has a transfer budget of around £100 million this summer and his two main priorities are in central midfield and attack. Should Bacary Sagna continue to turn down the offer of a new contract, he would also need to add a right-back.
Wenger’s budget includes wages as well, meaning the club could afford another star signing of Mesut Ozil’s calibre and prize range this summer, although perhaps not two such expensive deals.
Although Martinez is understood to interest Manchester City and Paris St Germain, Arsenal will hope that their financial discipline will be rewarded this summer and that other competitors will have to be more mindful of Uefa’s new Financial Fair-Play regulations.