GOAL - Chris Burton
Javi Martinez may be offered the opportunity to leave Bayern Munich and return to his roots in Bilbao, with Athletic president Aitor Elizegi claiming he can “easily raise €20 million (£17m/$23m)” with which to do a deal.
The versatile 30-year-old has spent the last seven years in Germany at the Allianz Arena.
He was lured to the Bundesliga on the back of an impressive 2011-12 campaign which saw him finish as a runner-up in the Copa del Rey and Europa League.
Martinez then went on to help Spain, who he had already tasted World Cup success with in 2010, to a second successive European Championship triumph.
A Basque native was snapped up by Bayern for €40m (£34m/$45m) but could be returned to his homeland for half that price.
Athletic would have no problem financing such a deal, with the Liga outfit in the process of mulling over moves for a number of familiar faces.
Quizzed on the links to Martinez, Elizegi told Mundo Deportivo: “Athletic can easily raise €20 million for Javi Martinez and we have the capacity to pay the price, so from an economic point of view, that would not be a problem.”
Martinez has admitted in the recent past that he would welcome the opportunity to return to Athletic at some stage.
Having taken in more than 200 appearances for Bayern over the course of a trophy-laden spell, the time for a fresh start in familiar surroundings may be fast approaching.
“Bilbao is a paradise, I have many friends there and I cannot deny that I will one day return there,” Martinez has told Kicker.
Those comments will be music to the ears of Elizegi.
He does, however, have issues to address when it comes to a number of those already in Bilbao.
Aritz Aduriz, Markel Susaeta, Ander Iturraspe and Mikel Rico will all see their current contracts expire in the summer.
Head coach Gaizka Garitano is another of those approaching the end of his deal, although the hope is that he will agree to stay on at San Mames.
Elizegi said: “My big wish is that Gaizka Garitano will stay with us for three years, and the first developments he has made have been brilliant - he's on the right track.”
Athletic are currently sat ninth in La Liga, six points adrift of the Europa League spots with 10 games remaining.