The most important thing at Athletic Club is Lezama. The youth academy is the pillar on which the club has been built and that is something that will never change. Every year new players are getting a shot at the first team and this summer with be no different. With Kuko Ziganda having taken over as the manager, he has already chosen two players to spend the preseason with the first team, and there could end up being even more.
According to several reports in the Basque Country, as well as a recent report from Javi Beltran of AS, Unai Nunez and Inigo Cordoba will officially join the first team for preseason training and Andoni Lopez could join then depending on whether or not the club signs a new left-back.
Nunez (20) is a strong and capable defender that has drawn comparisons to Yeray. His physicality, control, and vocality at the back made him absolutely vital for Bilbao Athletic’s success. Meanwhile, Cordoba (20) is a talented winger who is able to do a little bit of everything. He has pace, work rate, dribbling ability, and has really come on as a scorer over the last two seasons. He is most comfortable on the left wing which is an area that Athletic wants to reinforce.
Andoni Lopez (21) was arguably the most consistent player in the team this year and many believe he has made his case for the first team. However, Athletic is already trying to sign a new left-back with Nacho Monreal and Alex Berenguer the top options. If the club cannot find a way to land either player, Lopez will get to spend the preseason with the first team as well.
Additionally, Athletic will have several players coming back from loan that should be able to enjoy the preseason, though some might be quickly sent back out on loan. Urtzi Iriondo and Markel Etxeberria were key players for Bilbao Athletic under Kuko Ziganda, but it doesn’t seem like they have done enough to secure a place in the first team. Asier Villalibre and Ager Aketxe will also be returning and reports claim that both will certainly be a part of the preseason squad.