Bayern sanction transfer 'madness'
Bayern Munich have yet to announce the signing of Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao - but chairman Uli Hoeness has confirmed that the club's directors have "given the green light" for the record transfer.
Hoeness was questioned by journalists after a press conference for Bayern's basketball department on Thursday and said: "FC Bayern have raised the bar and have the means. You have to admit this amount is madness [but] the board of directors has given the green light."
He voiced his admiration for Athletic's tough negotiating, saying: "I raise my hat to Bilbao for not giving in."
About 1,000 fans watched Martinez and fellow wantaway Spain international Fernando Llorente train in Bilbao on Thursday, with some whistles and boos directed at the pair.
Local papers reported on Friday that Athletic were already lining up potential replacements, with Real Betis midfielder Benat a reported €20 million target.
It appears that the Martinez transfer is now a question of how, and not if, it will happen. Matthias Sammer, the new Bayern director of sport, has repeatedly said the club do not want to pay as much as the relase clause in Martinez's contract - €40 million.
Bayern's current record signing is Mario Gomez, who joined from VfB Stuttgart in 2009 for a rumoured fee of between €30 million and €35 million.
Athletic are unwilling to budge from their €40 million demand for the 23-year-old. President Josu Urrutia underlined their determination not to let players go easily when he said: "To everyone wanting to buy players from Bilbao, I say: 'We are not a selling club.'"
However, under Spanish transfer regulations, a player with a buyout clause is able to free himself from his contract if the amount stipulated is delivered to the league association. This would end the contractual relationship between the club and the player.
According to German tabloid Bild, Martinez could accept a cut in his annual salary of €2 million to make the transfer happen. Over the course of his five-year contract, this would spare Bayern €10 million. "Obviously he has offered this," Hoeness said. "Just the fact he is thinking about it is a nice thing."
On Friday, however, Sueddeutsche Zeitung said this was a "naive miscalculation". As Athletic are unwilling to negotiate, the result is that Martinez will have to deliver the money to the Spanish league association. This would another €8 million in tax on top of the transfer fee.
Bayernstill retain some hope that coach Jupp Heynckes can talk Urrutia into a transfer. Urrutia, 44, was an Athletic player under Heynckes in 2001-02.
Meanwhile, Franz Beckenbauer has told Sport1: "I don't know Martinez. I have never seen him play. But if Bayern Munich are interested, he must be good. He must be special, otherwise FC Bayern would not be after him.
"Certainly, he is expensive. But €30 million or €40 million - whatever. FC Bayern is a capable of taking this step."