Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque has hinted at his starting defensive pairing ahead of his side’s first World Cup game against the Netherlands.
Del Bosque chose to use Arsenal transfer target Javi Martinez in central defence alongside Real Madrid star Sergio Ramos, in a move which hints at how he plans to use the Spaniard this summer.
The £20 million rated Bayern Munich star has been tipped to make an Emirates stadium switch but Arsene Wenger seems to want Martinez as a holding midfielder as opposed to a central defender.
Del Bosque appears to be echoing the recent thoughts of Bayern boss Pep Guardiola who used Martinez as a centre-back at various points throughout last season.
Guardiola’s main holding player last season was a right-back, Philipp Lahm, which suggests he’s seen something in Martinez, which makes him believe that his future is as a defender.
Martinez certainly has the quality to be able to step into the middle of a defence and play well because his natural attributes make him an efficient defensive player.
He’s quick, tall, strong, reads the game well and isn’t afraid to take risks and make challenges to win back possession for his side.
Arsenal are affected because if he plays well as a centre-back for Spain throughout the World Cup, it could further convince Guardiola that he should be using him in the back four.
That changes how Bayern see him in a transfer sense; dispensable as a midfielder, indispensible as a central defender.
Wenger could well choose to make an offer for him after the tournament in Brazil but he needs to bear in mind that he’d be investing in a player who has seen his position change at domestic and international level in the contemporary past.
Arsenal have three very good central defenders in Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen. What they don’t have is a gutsy, consistent and quality presence in front of their back four.
If Wenger believes that Martinez is becoming defender, he may well choose to hang onto the club’s £20 million.