According to the German newspaper Bild, Bayern Munich have signed Javi Martinez from Spanish club Athletic Bilbao. The transfer was triggered after Bayern activated a €40m buy-out clause in Martinez’s contract. The size of the deal is a record for a German club.
“I am very happy and looking forward to playing for a club with such a history,” Martinez told Bayern Munich’s official TV channel. “It was a long wait. But finally it’s over.”
In a statement on the Bayern Munich website Bayern director of sports Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added:
“It was complicated from day one, as there was no team play with Athletic Bilbao. But we are all the happier that Javi Martinez at long last has joined us. We had to solve taxing and legal problems over the last few days. The good news is we succeeded.”
The 23-year-old Martinez signed for Bilbao from fellow La Liga side CA Osasuna for €6 million in the summer of 2006. He quickly established himself in the side and played 35 matches for his club in his debut season, scoring three times.
Martinez was so keen on joining the German giants, that he signed a five-year deal with Bayern for €2m a year LESS than he was making at Athletic, meaning he will lose will lose €10m overall as a result of the move.
Martinez has won the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2012 UEFA European Championship with the Spanish national team and can play as a central defender and as a central midfielder. He will most likely play alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger in Bayern’s midfield.
The transfer is a huge sign of intent by Bayern, who are still reeling from losing the Champions League final to Chelsea last season in front of their own fans.
For Athletic Bilbao fans this has been a disappointing summer after last years run to the UEFA Europa League final. Striker Fernando Llorente and centre-back Fernando Amorebieta are both expected to follow Martinez in leaving Athletic this summer. The exodus will leave the club debt-free (a rarity in Spain), but will make challenging for a top four position on La Liga this season extremely unlikely.