It looks like Ernesto Valverde’s future will have him somewhere other than Athletic Club. On Tuesday it was reported that the manager had already informed club President Josu Urrutia of his intentions to leave the Basque giants at the end of the season. Valverde seems to believe that he has taken the team as far as he can and that a new leader is needed to continue improving. However, Urrutia will have until the end of the season to convince Valverde to stay in Bilbao and making two big signing could do just that.
For over a year Athletic has been chasing the signatures of Mikel Merino and Alex Berenguer. Merino was sold by Osasuna to Borussia Dortmund last summer but has barely played for the Germans. He could be available for a relatively reasonable fee and would be a terrific addition to Athletic. Berenguer is still playing for Osasuna, but with their likely relegation he will be up for sale. His ability to play anywhere along the left wing would give the Basques much needed depth and a new spark in attack. There is also the belief that Athletic could make another push for Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal, but he is not seen as a priority due to the impressive form of Mikel Balenziaga over the last few years.
Signing just one of these players would considered a good summer, but finding a way to bring both to the San Mames would be one of the best transfer windows in recent memory. Urrutia believes that he could convince Valverde to stay at the club if he can find a way to bring in both young stars. Even if Athletic signs both players, Valverde could still decide to leave. If that were to happen, the next manager would have quite a talented squad to work with for the upcoming campaign.
Speaking of the next manager, it looks all but certain that Bilbao Athletic coach Cuco Ziganda will be the man to take over for Valverde. Ziganda has done an excellent job with the reserve side and has been preparing to take over the first team for over 5 years now. He has already told the club that he will accept the promotion if Valverde leaves, which will provide continued stability and familiarity for the first team. President Urrutia and the majority of the board has backed Ziganda to be the next first team manager and, unless something surprising happens, that is exactly what will happen if Valverde does make his exit.