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Xabi Prieto speaks out following defender’s Basque switch

Xabi Prieto speaks out following defender’s Basque switch

Real Sociedad captain Xabi Prieto has discussed Inigo Martinez’s decision to swap Basque clubs and join Athletic Club.

Prieto has been a loyal player for La Real, featuring in over 500 games for the Basque side, however, he has watched in recent times – defender Martinez switch clubs and move to rivals Athletic.

The centre-back was hauled in by Athletic to replace Aymeric Laporte, who departed for Premier League leaders Manchester City, leaving a sour taste in the mouth of Txuri-urdinak fans.

Prieto, who has taken time out of training to discuss the move, claims moving to San Mames is not a ‘step-up’ from La Real.

“Athletic is not a step up from La Real,” Prieto told Noticias de Gipuzkoa.

“On a sporting level at least it is not an improvement, perhaps it is economically but I do not know for sure, but I wish Inigo all the best apart from when he plays us.

“He was honest with me about his decision to leave, but I could sense it before he confirmed and well, I let him knew my thoughts about it.

“It was a personal decision for him and nobody can complain about what he has decided to do for himself.”

Martinez’ departure left Sociedad with a lack of defensive options at the last minute in the transfer window, but a move for Hector Moreno from Roma almost improved that area of the pitch.

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No move was made however, leaving coach Eusebio Sacristain to look at his current squad and the club’s youth structure.

The weekend win over Deportivo La Coruna saw Aritz Elustondo and Raul Navas partner up, keeping a clean sheet in a 5-0 win but this coming weekend’s fixture with Zinedine Zidane’s much troubled Real Madrid will provide a sterner test for Eusebio’s re-structured back line.