"Javi Martinez has spectacular physical power. He is all over the pitch, he covers a lot of ground and recovers a lot of balls. He is Bayern's lungs. As many of his teammates and manager have said, he is the piece that the team needed."
Those were the words of Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets discussing the impact of a Spanish compatriot at Bayern Munich this season; the man in question was of course Javi Martinez.
He made these comments prior to the sensational 7-0 aggregate win for the Bundesliga outfit over their La Liga rivals and now Busquets is likely to be far more careful over praise for a man who plays in his position. Because if you were to ask a novice watcher which of the two on show were the starters for Spain during the recent Champions League tie; I think we all know who they would point to.
But it could have been oh so different.
It became clear that Javi Martinez wanted a move from Athletic Bilbao toward the end of last season. After taking the club to a Europa League final he surely felt that he had reached his pinnacle at his Basque home. The fact he was being played out of position at centre-back clearly was not helping him want to stay at San Mames and when he left it was no surprise; apart perhaps for the destination.
For many a year it was reported that Martinez would one day grace our shores and last summer it looked on the brink. While Manchester United were not as in contention as they had been in recent years their city rivals certainly were.
Manchester City looked the favourites to sign the talented player in the summer until Bundesliga efforts were stepped up and it now seems both Manchester clubs really missed a trick.
While the likes of Franck Ribery, Phillip Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger entering their prime has helped along with the addition of Dante, Mario Mandzukic and the maturing stature of David Alaba overall it is widely regarded that the introduction of Javi Martinez has been the catalyst for this season.
Bayern play with the tempo of a Premier League side and the technical ability of a La Liga side; it is a recipe made for winning. At the centre of all that hustle-bustle and passing guile is the 24-year-old from Estella. While United are content with Michael Carrick for now Martinez would have made an excellent long-term investment. As for City; they are stuck with his countryman Javi Garcia instead.
What do you think? Should United and City have gone all out for Martinez?
image: © henrikalexandersen