Real Sociedad close to Vela and Mariga, but excitement surrounds another new face

As Real Sociedad prepare to welcome new signings to Anoeta, the most excitement surrounds the emergence of a new face from the B team, who is set to start the first game of the La Liga season.

There is speculation that new Coach Philippe Montanier could spring a surprise in his first official game as Coach at the weekend, by selecting Inigo Martinez against Atletico Madrid.

The French tactician selected Martinez as one of seven youngsters to promote to first-team affairs for Sociedad’s pre-season preparations, and in light of his impression made on Montanier and his continued involvement in subsequent friendlies, speculation is that the 20-year-old defender will make the first XI for Monday night’s home clash with Atleti.

Left-footed Martinez has developed through La Real’s youth system with the flexibility to switch between midfield and defence, and played a key role in Real Sociedad B’s 2010 promotion, alternating between central holding midfield and centre-back positions. Martinez has appeared in seven of Sociedad’s games this summer and is thought likely to make his League debut at centre-back for the first match of the 2011-12 campaign, partnering Vadim Demidov.

Should he not make the staring line-up, he still remains likely to feature in the coming campaign, in light of Montanier’s announcement after the team’s recent friendly with Catania, that he has been promoted to the senior squad.

Ironically, Martinez’ failure to make the Spanish Under-20 World Cup squad was the only reason he was able to train and subsequently impress Sociedad’s management to earn this opportunity. Central midfielder and fellow B team graduate Asier Illarramendi is also tipped for first-team involvement this summer having also impressed Montanier and been given playing time.

However, even Illarramendi has taken time to speak of Martinez’ strong impression this summer saying he: “is one of those defenders that transmits order, that then spreads. He is very aggressive and forceful, and as a left-footed player, is rare.”

At the same time as excitement surrounds this duo, the club are understood to be just hours away from securing their first signings of the summer. Reports claim both Arsenal’s Carlos Vela and Inter’s McDonald Mariga are on the verge of joining, with Mexican striker Vela agreeing to a year-long loan without an option for the club to purchase, and Inter and Sociedad in agreement on a year-long loan with an option for a further 12 months for Mariga.

Vela’s move is subject to the 22-year-old, who has had spells in Spain with Osasuna and Salamanca, passing a medical, whilst Mariga has just returned from international duty with Kenya and is set to review his options, but is known to be very much keen to leave Inter, as Inter are to offload him.

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