Athletic Club’s market is small, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have options. Going into the summer, Mikel Merino and Alex Berenguer were the top two transfer targets and that hasn’t changed at all. The Lions believe that they can seal the signings of both players, but that won’t come easily. There are other clubs interested and the Basques will likely have to battle it out to bring them to Bilbao. Napoli has put up the biggest fight for Berenguer so far and now it looks like things have taken a turn for the worse.
According to a report from Alfonso Herran of AS, Napoli told Osasuna last Thursday that they will submit their official bid this week and it is believed to be €6 million plus €1 million in incentives.
So far Osasuna has remained firm that they will only accept Berenguer’s €9 million release clause. However, club President Luis Sabalza recently stated that if there is an offer close to the player’s clause then the club would be open to negotiating a transfer. He also said that he personally hopes that Napoli offers more than Athletic who have only offered €4 million plus €1 million in variables. Additionally, some rumors suggest that Napoli’s offer could also include sending another player the other way on loan to help Osasuna earn promotion back to the Primera.
Just because Napoli will reportedly offer more than Athletic doesn’t guarantee that Osasuna will immediately accept. The Navarrese club are in financial disarray and need to sell players, meaning they will likely wait patiently for someone to try and top the offer. That being said, Athletic has already told their neighbors that they currently have no plans of raising their current bid. There is a lot of summer left and this saga could continue for some time, but it does look like Napoli will take the lead in the race to sign Alex Berenguer.