Kike Sola And Asier Villalibre Still Waiting For Kuko Ziganda’s Decision

When Athletic Club first began preseason training the squad consisted of 30 players. Since then Unai Lopez and Alex Remiro have been loaned to the Segunda, while Javi Eraso was allowed to leave for free to return to Leganes where he expects to compete for a starting role. Despite these three moves the first team squad is still overfilled and manager Kuko Ziganda will need to make a few more decisions on who will be staying or leaving before the transfer window comes to an end. Right now, there are two players in particular who are eagerly awaiting their fate.

Asier Villalibre

Asier Villalibre could leave on loan this season (AS)

Kike Sola and Asier Villalibre are in the very same boat, but find themselves in completely different stages of their careers. Sola, 31, has spent time with three different clubs on loan and is entering the final year of his contract with Athletic. The striker does not want to leave on loan again and is hoping to convince Ziganda that he deserves a place in the team. Meanwhile, Villalibre is still only 19 years old and wants to be a first team player, but the best decision might be joining a Segunda club for the year.

In a recent interview Ziganda admitted that both cannot stay in the team. In fact, he went as far to say that both might end up leaving the club. With only a few weeks remaining in the transfer window, the two strikers are still unsure of what their immediate futures will hold. Villalibre already has clubs knocking on the door in hopes of signing him on loan this season. Real Valladolid, Numancia, and Tenerife have all contacted Athletic to let their interests be known. Spending a year in the Segunda may be the perfect next step for the 19-year-old because it will be hard to get minutes at Athletic this season were he to stay.

Sola’s case is much more complex. If the 31-year-old does leave the club it will likely be for good. His contract expires in June and he has already been vocal about not wanting to spend another year on loan. There is a chance that Athletic could allow him to leave for free to join a new club, but that has yet to be decided at this point. Were he to stay, Sola could provide experience as a Primera striker, but would still be sitting behind Aritz Aduriz, Iñaki Williams, and Sabin Merino in the pecking order. Even if he stayed in Bilbao he wouldn’t get to see the field that often.

At the moment it looks like both players are hoping to see the other make an exit. Unfortunately, the most likely scenario is that they will be leaving together. Ziganda already has three options at the striker position and keeping a fourth would be uncommon. Villalibre needs regular minutes and Sola wants to enjoy playing football again. It is very unlikely that either of those things can happen at Athletic this season. Over the next few weeks Ziganda will have to make a final decision, but until that time it will be a long waiting game for the two strikers.

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