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Barcelona's newly signed Spanish defender Inigo Martinez (right) poses with Barcelona's President Joan Laporta during his official presentation at the Joan Gamper training ground in Sant Joan Despi on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Barcelona: Barcelona’s new defender Inigo Martinez said he was glad to join a team he has regularly suffered against, at his presentation on Thursday.

The 32-year-old Spanish centre-back arrived on a free transfer from Athletic Bilbao last week and admitted he has endured many difficult nights at Camp Nou against the Spanish champions.

“Honestly, I’ve suffered every time I’ve come to Camp Nou, there’s no game in which I’ve not ended up knackered,” Martinez told reporters at Barcelona’s training ground.

“The style of Barcelona takes you into their territory bit by bit, there are top quality players, whoever the opponent is pays a high price and feels it on the pitch.

“You end up looking at the scoreboard and the minutes aren’t passing, the game feels eternal.”

Easy choice

Martinez signed a deal with Barcelona until 2025 and said it was an easy choice, highlighting the appeal of working under coach Xavi Hernandez, despite the club’s financial situation.

“It’s not easy for anyone, but it doesn’t matter, come on, this is Barcelona, the best team in the world,” said Martinez.

“When they call you, it puts the shine into your eyes. You pack your bag quickly to come here.

“Seeing Xavi play was amazing, so having him as a coach, I can’t even tell you.”

Martinez only played 15 times in La Liga last season for Athletic because of a foot problem which continues to trouble him.

The defender has worked by himself this week in training, unable to link up with his teammates yet as he recovers from plantar fasciitis.

Martinez confirmed he had a small operation on his foot to help his progress.

“It felt a lot better after the operation, I’ve kept going with my work during the holidays,” added Martinez.

“An operation that lasted five minutes has helped me a lot.”

Seven seasons

Martinez, who came through at Real Sociedad and played there for seven seasons in the top flight, moved to Athletic in January 2017.

Athletic paid his €32 million ($35 million) buy-out clause, which remains a club record fee.

Martinez played 177 times for the Basques, scoring eight goals and winning the Spanish Super Cup in 2021, as well as reaching two Copa del Rey finals.