Iñigo Martinez: “Real Sociedad Didn’t Do Anything To Try To Persuade Me To Stay”
Athletic Club made history in January when they shattered their transfer record by purchasing Real Sociedad captain Iñigo Martinez for his €32 million release clause. It was a response from the Lions who had just lost Aymeric Laporte when Manchester City paid his €65 million release clause and it has turned out to be a spectacular move. Martinez quickly endeared himself to the San Mamés and was one of the team’s best players in the final half of the season. In an interview with Noticias de Gipuzkoa, the defender opened up about the fact that Real Sociedad President, Jokin Aperribay, did nothing to try and stop him from leaving.
“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, so 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 maybe he just buried his head in the sand. It was another kick in the ass because I could see that he wasn’t going to do anything to try and persuade me to stay at Real Sociedad.”
Martinez went on to reveal that when he signed his last contract with Real Sociedad the release clause was intentionally kept low and the President promised him that he would let him speak to other clubs if interest was shown. In the end, Apperibay did not keep to his word which angered Martinez who felt betrayed and devalued by the club that he had defended for so many years. When Athletic called it was just the move he was hoping for.
“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. When you face these things over and over again there comes a moment when you have to make a decision. I’m a defender, I came through the youth system and they got a good price for me. Others have left without anything in return and they patted them on the back. I was ready for a leap forward in my career, but they closed the door. I didn’t receive the love I expected and in the winter Athletic called and I didn’t even have to think about it. It was the opportunity that I was looking for.”
In closing, Martinez revealed that Athletic’s offer was roughly twice of what he was currently making at Real Sociedad. But it was never about the money for him because he had offers from clubs who would’ve paid him even more. Now that he has joined Athletic he feels at home and says that he never would’ve believed that he could be as happy as he is playing at the San Mamés.
“The offer from Athletic was economically on the same level of clubs like Madrid or Barcelona. It was at least twice what I was making at La Real, but at the same time, it was never an issue about money. It it was about money I would’ve gone to one of the other teams that were offering me triple and with incredible bonuses. Athletic consulted me on how I wanted to leave and we knew there was little time left before the transfer window closed. We told them to execute the clause so that it was guaranteed. I am very happy and grateful because I didn’t think I could be as happy as I am right now. For the treatment that Athletic and the fans have shown to me, I will be forever grateful. I’m from Bizkaia and grew up an Athletic fans so it’s nice to be at a club where everyone else is like me.”
Iñigo Martinez’s decision to leave Real Sociedad has definitely worked out in the favor of the player and Athletic. The 27-year-old is now being loved and treated the way he always wanted and the club have an experienced leader in the heart of defense. Even though his first season at the San Mamés didn’t go well in terms of where the team finished in the table, Martinez is optimistic about the future of the Lions with a new manager set to take over this summer and the club brining in some new players to overhaul the squad.