Over the past few days most of the conversations in Bilbao have revolved around contract renewal negotiations. Kepa Arrizabalaga is still in talks to renew his deal, Aritz Aduriz will get to decide for himself, and Beñat’s representatives have had their first meeting with the club. A total of nine players are in the final year of their contracts which leaves Athletic with a lot of decisions to make. Kuko Ziganda’s squad could look much different next year, but that remains to be seen. That being said, one players has already seen his deal extended and it may not be who you’d think.
According to a report from Javier Beltran of AS, Unai Nuñez has see his contract extended until 2020. The 20-year-old had a clause in his deal that would see his contract extended two extra years once he plays ten first team matches, but the club elected to go ahead and activate that clause now. There have been no reports regarding his release clause, but that number is expected to be somewhere around €30 million.
Athletic’s decision to go ahead and extend Nuñez’s contract shows the faith that they have in the young defender. When he was brought up to train with the first team over the summer there was talk of a potential loan move, but the 20-year-old proved himself in the preseason and has already become an important part of Kuko Ziganda’s squad in just one month of action. So far he has played every minute of La Liga action, featuring as Aymeric Laporte’s partner in the back line. The Lezama product has shown that the future is very bright and now he will remain at the San Mamés for the foreseeable future.
When Yeray is able to return from chemotherapy there will be plenty of depth in the center of the defense. This has been a major area of focus in Ziganda’s first year as manager and the hard work is clearly paying off. In the six games to start the new year, Athletic has kept four clean sheets and have looked absolutely solid at the back. Nuñez definitely has the manager’s trust despite being newly promoted and fans will be excited to see such a promising young talent secured for the next few years.