Former La Masia full-back admits he wants to return to Barcelona, praises Xavi

Speaking in an exclusive interview with TV3, Girona defender and former La Masia prospect Arnau Martinez has claimed that he wishes to return to Barcelona and play for the club’s first team.

Martinez spent a significant amount of time in Barcelona’s youth ranks before leaving for L’Hospitalet in 2016. Two years later, he signed for Girona where he rose to the senior team setup and played a key role in their promotion back to the top flight.

In his maiden La Liga campaign, the 19-year-old has impressed heavily, producing a tally of two goals and an assist from 11 league matches.

Martinez’s impressive performances have put him on the radars of Barcelona, who are in the market for a new right-back in January.

With links to his former club intensifying, the Spaniard has now admitted that he would welcome an opportunity to return to Barça as long as he got a chance to play for the first team.

“If I return it will be to the first team. Obviously, I would like to return to Barça, but I would like to go to any of the big clubs, which are the best in the world,” Martinez said.

The 19-year-old also spoke about current manager Xavi Hernandez, saying that he liked the club legend as a player and manager.

“I liked him as a footballer and now as a coach. He is doing very well,” he added.

Coming through the youth ranks at the club, Martinez played with Alejandro Balde, who is now a first-team star under Xavi. Expressing his happiness at the left-back’s growth, the Girona ace said:

“I’m very happy for him, for his effort and work. I’m glad he’s playing as a starter, as he’s doing, and on the right side when he’s a left-back.”

During his time at La Masia, Martinez was likened to club legend Javier Mascherano. Explaining the reason behind it, the youngster said:

“I was compared to him a lot, when I was in Barcelona I was a leader and a versatile player, a bit like Mascherano, that’s why they called me that.”

Martinez has a contract with Girona that runs until 2025 with a release clause worth around €20 million. With the player keen on a return and Xavi also said to be eyeing a move for him, whether a move materialises remains to be seen.

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