The summer transfers window is a time for clubs to strengthen their squads and improve for the upcoming campaign. However, it is also a time that sees players leave their clubs whether it be retirement, an end of a contract, or simply looking for more minutes elsewhere. Athletic Club is no different and it already looks like there will be three departures from the current squad when the transfer window finally opens.
First is Gorka Elustondo whose contract will expire in June. The 30-year-old has not heard anything from the club about a possible renewal so it is very likely that he will be leaving for free this summer. Elustondo is a versatile footballer who can operate as a center-back or defensive midfielder. Unfortunately for him, these two areas are quite deep at Athletic and there simply isn’t enough minutes to go around. He has only featured in 5 games this season.
Second is left-back Enric Saborit, who has honestly had a much better second season with the first team. However, he is still prone to making mistakes and has cost the Lions a few goals this year. His ability to play anywhere along the left side of the field has given Athletic depth, but with the possible arrival of Alex Berenguer there won’t be need for Saborit. The 24-year-old’s contract also expires in June and there have been no contacts from the club about a renewal. It seems like the only way Saborit will stay at Athletic is if Ernesto Valverde remains with the club and pushes for a renewal.
The last player likely to leave Athletic this summer is also a sad goodbye. Gorka Iraizoz, who has been the starting goalkeeper since 2007, will see his contract end in June. The 36-year-old recently said in an interview that the club is not going to renew his deal and that he is free to look for a new home for the upcoming season. Iraizoz has been a steady face for 10 years now, but lost his starting role to Kepa Arrizabalaga this season. The former Espanyol man does not want to continue playing as a backup and will weigh up his options of retiring when the season comes to a close.
For Saborit and Elustondo the writing has been on the wall for a while now. They aren’t poor footballers, but they simply aren’t on the same level as the rest of their teammates. Athletic has the chance to upgrade at both positions and are targeting Alex Berenguer and Mikel Merino to do just that. There are other players who could be on their way out this summer, such as Javi Eraso, but the three players listed above already have one foot out of the door. Historically, Athletic Club would have renewed a player’s expiring contract by now so the lack of communication is telling. Their time in Bilbao is coming to an end with other players ready to take their places and make their mark at the San Mames.