x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Martinez will show Wigan he belongs

If Dave Whelan gets his prediction right, Roberto Martinez would go on to become one of the top five managers in the Premier League.

The Spaniard Roberto Martinez is all set for a return to Wigan.
The Spaniard Roberto Martinez is all set for a return to Wigan.

If Dave Whelan gets his prediction right, Roberto Martinez would go on to become one of the top five managers in the Premier League in the next few years. That is how excited the Wigan chairman is to appoint the Spaniard as the club's manager. Martinez was expected sign a three-year contract last night, returning to the club where he spent six years as a player.

He learned his managerial trade in the lower divisions, taking Swansea to the League One championship in 2007 before a creditable eighth place in the Championship last season. Whelan saw him as the top choice to replace Steve Bruce, who departed for Sunderland, and is confident Martinez will be a success in the top flight. "There is no reason why he [Martinez] cannot come to Wigan and be a top-quality manager in the Premier League," he said.

Whelan said the pair would get to work straight away, discussing the squad and potential transfers. Top players, such as Antonio Valencia, Olivier Kapo and Paul Scharner, have been linked with moves. Speculation about ins and outs at clubs will continue all summer, but Liverpool are adamant Javier Mascherano will not be one to exit Anfield. Following comments by the Argentine's agent, Walter Tamer, the midfielder would be interested in a move to Barcelona, Rafael Benitez has dismissed the notion.

"Mascherano has no price," he said. "Barcelona could not afford to match his value to Liverpool. "He has a long contract and any club can forget about bidding for him. They can offer £40million [Dh239m] or even £50m, we don't want to sell. "I have spoken to Javier two or three times this summer. The last time was only last week and he was very happy, very positive. "He gave me the private number of his agent and again the conversation was very positive and was all about football. Walter told me that two clubs with big, big names were asking after Mascherano and I told him to forget it."

Meanwhile, Tottenham, West Ham and Hull will take part in the Barclays Asia Trophy in Beijing at the end of July. Beijing Guoan, one of China's top teams, will also compete in the two-day tournament. akhan@thenational.ae