Ernesto Valverde calm about Inigo Martinez links to Barca

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Former Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde has said he is "calm" about reports linking Inigo Martinez with the Blaugrana.

Reports in Spain have indicated that Barca see the 31-year-old as an alternative option to Jules Kounde if they are unable to complete his signing from Sevilla.

The France defender has also been heavily linked with a move to Chelsea, though reports on Saturday suggested Barca were confident of beating the Premier League side to a deal.

Valverde was appointed as Athletic boss last month for a third spell, after managing Barca between 2017 and 2020, where he won two LaLiga titles and a Copa del Rey.

Speaking after Athletic's 1-1 friendly draw with Bundesliga side Mainz on Saturday, Valverde said he was relaxed about the Martinez rumours.

"We are calm about Inigo," he said. "For us there is no situation.

"I guess all this is the classic thing that happens every summer, that some clubs are interested or talked about as they are interested.

"We are calm. From what comes out we always isolate ourselves a little and that's it.

"He hasn't said anything to me [about a move], at all. At the club we are all very calm about it. We have players very committed to the club, you see it in every training and in every game. He's a very important player for us."

Martínez has made 342 LaLiga appearances for Real Sociedad and Athletic, 99.7 per cent of which have been from the start (341), the highest percentage of any outfield player with at least 250 appearances in the competition in the 21st century.

Barca teenager Pedri recently told Marca he hopes to see Martinez at the Camp Nou, saying: "Inigo is a magnificent player, I've played with him in the national team, I hope it can happen."

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