Martinez denies Bilbao break-in reports
The soap opera that has been Javi Martinez's summer transfer to Bayern Munich took another surreal twist on Tuesday with the player forced to deny widespread reports that he had tried to break into Athletic Bilbao's Lezama training ground last Sunday night to retrieve his remaining belongings.
Martinez tweeted on the subject on Tuesday afternoon, saying that "It is incredible that there are people who believe this story is correct." Bayern's press office also released a statement from the player saying: "I got there by 11PM and they opened the doors perfectly normally. There is no way you can call it a break-in."
By Wednesday morning the consensus in the Spanish and Basque papers was that Martinez had showed up unannounced at Lezama around midnight last Sunday. Finding the gates to the training ground locked he leaped the six foot high fence and entered the public car-park, where a private security guard spotted what seemed to be an intruder and a confrontation took place.
When Martinez, 24, eventually showed his ID card to the guard the dressing-room was unlocked so that Martinez could pick up a favourite pair of old boots.
Athletic have not commented officially but club sources told Bilbao newspaper El Correo that the incident took place after midnight and that Martinez could have phoned in advance to say he planned to visit and avoided any problems.
The private security company involved (Prosegur) told the paper that the security guard had been correct to be vigilant as there have been a number of attempted burglaries at Lezama in recent weeks.
The confusion further muddies one of the summer's most acrimonious transfers, when the Basque club's president Josu Urrutia had refused to negotiate with Bayern and Athletic fans whistled their former favourite during training at Lezama, before the Bundesliga club paid the player's €40 million release clause to complete his signing.
The saga looks set to continue with Martinez's former side Osasuna claiming they are due €800,000 from the transfer. Bayern president Uli Hoeness told Suddeutsche Zeitung on Tuesday that any money owed was Athletic's responsibility. AS reported on Wednesday morning that Osasuna would take the case to FIFA for arbitration.