Athletic Club’s need for a new striker is clear and evident. Aritz Aduriz, though he has been absolutely spectacular over the last few years, is still 36 years old and the club desperately needs to find his eventual successor. There was though that Asier Villalibre could be just that, but he has yet to show his readiness for Primera football. The Lions have also used players like Inaki Williams and Sabin Merino as the center-forward, but they want someone natural and now they have their eyes set on one player.
According to a report from Miguel Gonzalez of Diario Vasco, Athletic is interested in signing Real Sociedad striker Jon Bautista and the club is said to have already contacted his representatives to make their interest known.
Bautista is an exciting player who just recently turned the corner. Growing up at La Real’s academy, he played predominately as a right-winger. Then, at the reserve team, he was used as a center-forward and the goals started pouring. After a 29 goal season at Sanse (Real Sociedad’s reserve team) he got his chance with the first team and went on to score three goals this season, looking very impressive. The 21-year-old has looked comfortable, confident, and dangerous in his limited time in the Primera and that may be enough to fully peak Athletic’s interests. Kuko Ziganda is very familiar with the striker from coaching against him with Bilbao Athletic and that could further entice Athletic.
The report goes on to say that Athletic has not contacted Real Sociedad regarding their interest, knowing that their rivals will ask for the full €30 million release clause. However, the Lions have spoken with the player’s representatives in an attempt to gauge whether or not Bautista would welcome a move to the San Mames. Right now, he is sitting behind Willian Jose and Imanol Agirretxe, so the Lions are hoping that the prospect of fighting for a starting role in the near future may entice him to make the switch. So far he has not accepted a new contract despite Real Sociedad’s desire to get an extension done as soon as possible. If Bautista is to join Athletic he would have to be the one to push the move forward, and President Josu Urrutia would have the make the final decision on whether or not to submit a bid or match the striker’s release clause.