Athletic Club recently returned from their eight-day stay in Switzerland which saw Cuco Ziganda take 27 players with him for the Festival of the Alps. Now that they have returned home, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Inaki Williams will rejoin the squad, while the team is currently waiting on Yeray to finish chemotherapy before making his return. With a squad of 30 players it is clear that the manager will have to trim the squad down a bit and it now looks like he has settled on five players.
According to several different sources in Bilbao, Ziganda will offload Asier Villalibre, Alex Remiro, Unai Simon, Javi Eraso, and Unai Lopez this summer. Furthermore, a report from DEIA claims that the minutes distributed among some of the players in recent friendlies also suggest that the manager has made up his mind on who he wants in the team this season.
In this matter, every case is different. Despite making his first team debut last season and playing in a handful of matches, the club doesn’t seem to think that Villalibre is ready for a regular role in the team. He will likely be sent on loan somewhere in the Segunda where he will be able to play regular minutes and continue growing. The same should happen with Alex Remiro who needs minutes but doesn’t really have the ability to play consistently behind Kepa and Iago Herrerin. Meanwhile, Unai Simon is expected to be sent back to Bilbao Athletic.
Javi Eraso and Unai Lopez are the most interesting cases. Eraso is currently very close to leaving the club in order to sign a three year contract with CD Leganes. It was clear that he did not have a role in the team at the end of last season and with the return of Ager Akext and Mikel Vesga there certainly isn’t room anymore. Unai Lopez has also failed to prove that he can play a major role in the team after failing to impress on loan last season. He may actually have options in the Primera to leave on loan again, but it is becoming clear that he needs to carve out his own path to the San Mames.
If these are in fact the discards for this season it will leave Ziganda with 25 players. If the Lions are able to sign Mikel Merino from Borussia Dortmund it could require one more midfielder to leave the club. There are a handful of players who future’s are still uncertain, such as Mikel Rico and Kike Sola, while it looks like Unai Nunez and Inigo Cordoba will start the year with the first team. It will be an interesting conclusion to the summer, but Cuco Ziganda seems to have clear ideas about the direction he wants to take the team.