FC Barcelona’s goalkeeper Iñaki Peña will remain with the team until 2026. The 24-year-old from Alicante’s contract was set to expire on June 30th, but the club announced on Tuesday that they have renewed his contract for three more seasons, including a release clause of 400 million euros. He will compete with 31-year-old Marc ter Stegen for the starting position. MD reported this news earlier today.
Although the agreement had been in the works for months, various circumstances had prevented it from being finalized, including Peña’s doubts when Xavi Hernández chose Ter Stegen to start in the quarterfinals against Real Sociedad (1-0) and both semifinal matches against Real Madrid (0-1 at the Bernabéu and 0-4 at the Camp Nou) after Peña had played in the first two rounds of the Copa del Rey against Intercity (3-4) and Ceuta (0-5). Despite the decision, Xavi and his assistants’ persistence was key in persuading Peña to stay with the team.
It was not an easy renewal
Peña has not yet made his debut in LaLiga or at the Camp Nou. He did, however, play in the last group stage match of the 2022-23 Champions League. It was in the Czech Republic against Viktoria Plzen (2-4), in addition to the two previously mentioned Copa matches. If the team secures the league title with sufficient time, Peña may make his debut in LaLiga and at the Camp Nou in the coming weeks.
In the winter transfer window of the 2021-22 season, he went on loan to Galatasaray. There he performed at a high level and had the opportunity to play at the Camp Nou in the 2021-22 Europa League, albeit as an opponent, with a great performance that kept a clean sheet (0-0). In the second leg, Barça won 1-2 with goals from Pedri and Aubameyang. Peña played eight games for the Turkish team: six in the league and two in the Europa League. He had several suitors in Turkish football. In Spain, Real Betis had been interested in him since Ramon Planes became the director of football.
Peña began his football career at the age of 5 at Alicante in his hometown. In 2009, he moved to Villarreal’s youth team, and in 2013, he joined Barça’s academy as a child. Since the 2018-19 season, when Ernesto Valverde was still the manager, he alternated between the reserve team’s goal and training and being called up to the first team until he was permanently promoted as the third goalkeeper behind Ter Stegen and Neto by Ronald Koeman in August 2021, keeping his reserve team contract. Upon his return from Galatasaray’s loan spell and after Neto’s departure to Bournemouth, he became Barça’s second goalkeeper under Xavi Hernández. Peña has played for all of Spain’s youth teams up to the Under-21s.
Next up: Arnau Tenas
The club’s next move with regards to goalkeepers may be the announcement of the continuity of Arnau Tenas, 21, as the starting goalkeeper for Barça Atlètic and third goalkeeper for the first team. He signed until 2023 in 2020, with two additional optional years that the club may unilaterally execute if there is no unexpected change in direction. Additionally, two other academy players, Alejandro Balde and Lamine Yamal, are awaiting the closure of their contract renewals.