Kepa Arrizabalaga and Yeray have been absolutely stunning revelations this season. The pair was promoted to the first team over the summer and have become undisputed starters in the lineup. Their incredible form, coupled with their young age, will make them targets for other clubs. Neither is out of contract at the end of the season but Athletic is moving fast to get new extensions in place. During his press conference on Thursday, President Josu Urrutia said he was optimistic that extensions will be finalized soon.“I am optimistic about Kepa’s renewal and I don’t think it will be different from other negotiations we’ve had recently. He has already publicly said that he wants to continue here and we want him to stay for many years. I don’t understand the restlessness to get something done quick but we are working on it. Everyone is calm and the unknown of Ernesto Valverde does not bother him. Yeray has a contract for several more years. We are not only concerned with right now, but also for the extended future. He is comfortable here and wants to progress as a player. My conversations with him have shown me that he wants to stay and negotiations should not be difficult.”
Urrutia was also asked about the futures of players like Gorka Iraizoz, Gorka Elustondo, and Enric Saborit who are all out of contract at the end of the season. He did announce that Iraizoz would be leaving in the summer and that there is no official decision made on the other two players. He also revealed that there is no firm proposal yet for Mikel Rico.
“Some decisions have already been made. I met with Gorka [Iraizoz] two months ago and told him that we would not be extending his contract. I thanked him for his example and hard work these ten years, both on and off the field. He demonstrated what it means to be a Captain at Athletic Club. Next week we will hold a joint press conference like we did with Gurpegui and Iraola. He isn’t clear about what he will do next. As far as the other two, there is no concrete decisions that have been made. Mikel Rico? He has another year left and there isn’t a firm proposal on the table right now. I don’t know if next year we will decide to extend it.”
Athletic Club is already making plans for next year’s squad and is heavily tracking Osaunsa’s Alex Berenguer along with Borussia Dortmund’s Mikel Merino. There will likely be players that leave this summer in order to make space for new faces, but no key players are expect to depart. Josu Urrutia is working hard to convince Ernesto Valverde to stay at Athletic but ,if he decides to make his exit, Bilbao Athletic manager Cuco Ziganda is expected to take over control of the first team.