Iñigo Martínez caused quite a stir last January when he made the move from Real Sociedad to Athletic Bilbao, a path not very often directly travelled by footballers, with the San Mamés outfit laying out a club record fee of 32 million euros as they moved swiftly to replace Aymeric Laporte, who had departed for Manchester City earlier in the window for 65 million euros.
Martínez made few friends at Anoeta when he said it was difficult to turn down a salary offer “at least double what I was making” at Real Sociedad and also stated that he had always wanted to play for The Lions despite coming through the ranks at Zubieta.
Martínez: "Others have left for nothing and been patted on the back”
However, in an interview with Basque daily Noticas de Gipuzkoa, Martínez has suggested that he elected to join Athletic largely because Real Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay did little to persuade him otherwise: “He knew what might happen and it seemed as though he was the only person who didn’t know or didn’t want to know. He spoke to my people as if nothing was going on. And it was another case of feeling deceived because at no point did he say: ‘Let’s get together tomorrow and talk.’ Elsewhere he was saying how important I was and how much he wanted me to stay, that I was a pillar of La Real… but in the end it was just talk and he didn’t do anything. Or he just buried his head in the sand. But it was another kick in the arse because I could see that he wasn’t going to do anything to try and persuade me to stay at Real Sociedad.”
Martínez also stated that Aperribay did not keep a promise to let him to speak to other clubs despite maintaining his buy-out clause at a reasonable level in today’s market, pointing to interest from elsewhere before he made the move to San Mamés. “He closed the door on me when he had always said that if an offer came in he’d listen to it. He didn’t keep his promise and that annoyed me. I could see that the way I was being treated was completely different to other players. You take these things on board and there comes a moment when you have to make a decision. I’m a defender, I came through the ranks and they got a good price for me. Others have left for nothing and they’ve patted them on the back.”