Every discussion in Bilbao over the last few weeks has been focused on Ernesto Valverde. After four wonderful seasons as the Athletic Club manager, his future may lie elsewhere with Barcelona considering him for their soon-to-be vacancy. President Josu Urrutia has been waiting patiently, and rather calmly, for Valverde to tell him what decision he has made and that day may be coming closer.
According to rumors swirling around the city, Valverde could make his announcement as early as this week after the international break has officially come to an end.
As things stand right now, the Athletic board believes that Valverde will be leaving the club. The longer he takes to decide his future the more they think that he will be making his exit. However, some sources believe that he may depart whether or not he takes the Barcelona job. Txingurri has never been a manager to stay in one place very long and after being eliminated early in the Europe League he may believe that it is time to move on. It is no secret that discussions about his successor are already ongoing.
Of course, Athletic want Valverde to stay in Bilbao. He has coached more games than anyone else in club history and his last four years have been historic. He has had the Lions in European competition consistently, even qualifying once for the Champions League, and also won a trophy by beating Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup last season. If Txingurri does make his exit, his successor is already waiting just one training field away. Cuco Ziganda, manager of Bilbao Athletic, has long been viewed as the heir to the manager throne and is being backed by President Urrutia and a large majority of the Athletic board. If Valverde leaves, it would be very shocking if Ziganda is not named the new manager of Athletic Club de Bilbao.