Barcelona’s academy has always been special: the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta graduated from the legendary La Masia. Just look at some of their academy prospects in 2016: Ansu Fati, Eric García, and Nico, among others.
However, even with academies as good as Barcelona’s, sometimes talents slip through the cracks. One that they may particularly regret is Arnau Martínez. Several years later, Martínez has become one of Spain’s hottest prospects, with many clubs—including Barcelona—clamoring for his signature.
Martínez’s Career Path
Martínez was in Barcelona’s academy until 2016 when he left for regional side CE L’Hospitalet. L’Hospitalet seem to have a recruitment policy heavily focused on plucking released players from local powerhouses Barcelona and Espanyol—not that it’s gotten them anywhere.
After two years on the youth teams of L’Hospitalet, Martínez continued his tour of Catalonia signing for Girona. By 2020, he had made his Girona debut at the age of 17, just a month older than Girona’s youngest ever player. Last season was his first as a regular starter.
Statistics and Comparisons
In the Segunda División, Martínez finished last season with one goal and five assists. A wingback, he created 34 chances last season and drew the second most fouls in the league. In addition, he was fifth in the league in tackles won with 56.
Yan Couto, Girona’s right-back before Martínez became a starter, is the player I’m comparing statistically. Couto, back at Manchester City following multiple loans, finished his Segunda División season with fewer assists, chances created, passes, tackles, clearances, interceptions, and dribbles.
Martínez did play more games than Couto but even so, Martínez has better percentages in most major statistics. Couto has gained considerable interest recently—which is deserved—but it really displays the potential of Martínez.
Martínez’s Strengths and Weaknesses
Martínez is what teams want in a wingback: strong in both offense and defense. Fast, a strong dribbler, and someone capable of winning the ball, he adds a lot of value to any team. His crosses put the ball in dangerous positions, and he often gets himself in the right positions. He has good technical skills and is able to cover the majority of the right flank thanks to his speed and stamina.
While his tackles are typically successful, he does have a habit of making risky physical choices near the box. In addition, his tackling percentage (63% per fotmob.com) shows that he needs to win tackles with more consistency.
Overall, Martínez is a quality player with the potential to be one of the world’s top right-backs. He’s already a Spain youth international, and while a spot on the World Cup squad this year is out of the question, it’s easy to see him on the team in 2026.
Martínez is currently being linked with Barcelona and several other quality teams. However, this season it would make sense for him to stay with Girona, for multiple reasons. He’d be a starter with guaranteed game time, which allows him to gain more experience. Girona will also be in La Liga this season, which means he’ll have the opportunity to play in an even higher league. Martínez will—if he stays—have the chance to prove himself against the world’s top players before moving on once he is ready.
Still, no matter what he does this season, it’s hard not to get excited for Martínez’s future.
Image Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.
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