Last Sunday, Barcelona said goodbye to the season with a dinner at the Gaudim restaurant in Eixample. The coach, the captains spoke and Lieke Martens also spoke. “Nowhere will I be better than here. You are my family ”, exposed the Dutch, 29 years old. The forward’s speech had a hint of farewell. But no one was surprised. Everyone knew her situation, more pending to resolve her personal future than her professional one. Yes, she caught her attention, however, when she stopped picking up the phone since last Monday. Nobody knew anything about Martens in Barcelona. In Paris, yes. On Thursday, the Dutchwoman passed the medical review with PSG. This Friday morning, Martens broke his silence. Unofficially, as explained in Barcelona, the Dutch announced that she did not accept the offer to renew her contract that ends on June 30.
“Actually, accepting had already accepted her. What she is doing now is informing us that he will not sign what we had agreed to, ”they stress from the Barcelona offices. Last season, after Barça’s historic treble (League, Copa de la Reina and Champions), the Barça sporting director, Markel Zubizarreta, began working on the renovations. Sealed the new links of Mapi León, Oshoala and Marta Torrejón, Barça had seen Lieke Martens’ contract for judgment. As the Dutch woman does not have an agent, the pact was concluded expressly between Zubizarreta and the footballer, who would go to the first step of the salary bill of the Barça women’s team. There was, however, a problem to solve. Martens no longer wanted to be away from his partner, goalkeeper Benjamin van Leer, a substitute at Sparta Rotterdam.
“We have spoken with Nástic, with Reus, with Cornellà, with Girona… We have been in contact with all the clubs that are relatively close to Barcelona,” they point out at the Catalan club. In fact, at Barça they hoped to achieve an accommodation for Van Leer in Gerard Piqué’s Andorra. It happened, in any case, that Martens disappeared after the season farewell dinner. And the stupor began in the offices, but continued in the locker room. In May, Le Pariesen had reported that Martens would play for PSG next season. At that time, the club was calm. “We already have everything agreed. It only remains to solve a personal issue, ”they explained. And even her friend Caroline Graham Hansen took it upon herself to deny the information from the French newspaper. “fake news”, published the Norwegian.
Martens’ response does not change Barcelona’s sporting plans. “Although”, they nuance in the club; “If it is true that he has closed it since February, we would have preferred to know more in advance.” When Martens was just beginning to stand out at Sweden’s Rosengard, Barça signed her in 2017. That same summer, the striker became the symbol of the Netherlands team that won the Women’s Euro. “Everything was different. On the field, off the field and in my spare time, my life changed starting in 2017. It was not easy. It was a stage that cost me. People start to think differently about you. No one knows you and yet everyone has an opinion about you. It was strange, I was used to a normal life”, Martens confessed in an interview with EL PAÍS.
Overcome the football and emotional transition, Martens shone last season. He sought, then, personal stability. It seemed that he was going to get it: Barça had promised to help solve it. And the Dutchwoman, for her part, evolved on the field: 22 goals in 32 games, her best statistic since she arrived in Barcelona. But it was not enough. Martens, who, according to what they say at Barça, assured that he was more seduced by the sporting project than the economic one, finalizes the signing of him by PSG. Her contract will be doubled and she will be less kilometers away from her partner (500, for the 1,500 that separate Barcelona from Amsterdam). Her stage at Barça, in any case, closes furtively, elusive with the sports management, distant from the locker room leaders.