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Feb 28, 2013

Juanfran suggests dropping Martins

Levante defender Juanfran Garcia has suggested that want-away striker Obafemi Martins should not play in Saturday's Primera Division city-derby against Valencia as he only wants players "100% committed" to the club in the game.

Martins, 28, said on Tuesday that he was not happy with life at the La Liga club and wanted to join Seattle Sounders ahead of the start of the new MLS season in early March.

Defender Juanfran, 36, responded after training the following morning by saying that if Martins was not fully focused on Levante then coach Juan Ignacio Martinez should choose someone else to start this weekend's game at Mestalla.

"Whatever player does not have their mind focused on Levante, I do not want them at my side," Juanfran said. "I do not know how his head is, he looked fine at training this morning, but if he is not 100% he will not be fully committed and I want people who are."

The veteran full-back said Levante's senior players had discussed Martins' comments with him, and the striker had apologised for going public on the issue.

"The team captains have spoken about this and he told us he had made a mistake talking to the press," Juanfran said. "He apologised and said this was a personal matter between the club and himself. He is a very important player, but the group comes on top of everything. He has been told that and he understood it. He told us that whatever happens, if he is here for one day, two days or until the end, he will give 100%. We told him we believed him."

Martins, who has scored nine goals in 25 games this season, met with club president Quique Catalan at Levante's Bunol training ground on Tuesday, where he was reportedly told he would not be sold for less than the €3 million release clause in his contract. The player said on Tuesday that he hoped some arrangement could be made to lower that fee, as a move would suit all parties.

The former Rubin Kazan, Inter Milan, Newcastle, Wolfsburg and Birmingham forward, who scored Levante's winner in October's first Valencia derby, admitted to reporters afterwards that the situation remained up in the air.

"I am here today and I have a contract," Martins said after training on Wednesday. "But I do not know about tomorrow."

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