Kepa Arrizabalaga has always been the great hope of Athletic Club, the pearl of Lezama. Now that he has pledged his future to his boyhood club with a brand new contract the future looks bright and exciting. Every Athletic fan celebrated the news of the renewal, but it has negatively affected one person in particular; the player who has been in Kepa’s shadow since they were kids – Alex Remiro.
Remiro, who is only five months younger than Kepa, joined Athletic back in 2009 when he was 14 years old. Kepa, meanwhile, had already been at Lezama for five years and was already making a name for himself. As they grew up in the academy both looked poised for greatness. Fans began to look at Kepa as the second coming of Iribar, but Remiro was right behind him. Several times they were called up together for Spain’s U21 team showing just how talented the pair was.
Fast-forward to today and Kepa has established himself as the present and future of Athletic Club. At the same time, Iago Herrerín has a firm grasp on the reserve goalkeeper spot and is used as the cup keeper. The 30-year-old recently signed a contract extension and doesn’t look to be going anywhere soon. This leaves Remiro in a very awkward place in his career.
When there was a major concern over Kepa possibly leaving to join Real Madrid everyone was ready to hand the reigns over to Remiro, but now that isn’t going to happen. Of course, Real Madrid could still afford Kepa if they are interested, but there are no reports still linking that move at this time. Meanwhile, the 22-year-old is currently on loan in the second division with CD Huesca where he has been in terrific form and has the club in strong position to earn promotion to the top flight. Remiro has proven that he is a solid keeper and ready for the next step in his career, but it just doesn’t look like he has anywhere to take that step at Athletic Club.
Herrerín is the person standing in Remiro’s way but there is no reason to believe the will be leaving this summer. It isn’t impossible though. He could request the club allow him to leave so that he can be a starter somewhere else, but he has also been vocal about wanting to succeed at Athletic. Remiro needs to play regular minutes and it would be disastrous for his career to have him sit behind Kepa and Herrerín without getting regular minutes. This summer Athletic will have a very difficult decision to make with their young and promising keeper. The Basques must decide where Remiro’s career will take him.
The simple option would be to continue sending Remiro on loan, but he has already proven that he can play in the second division, and finding a top flight club will be tricky. The hope is that Huesca will earn promotion and will want to retain Remiro, perhaps on a permanent deal that gives Athletic the right to bring him back in the future. That would give the 22-year-old the best chance to continue his development while also keeping his dream of playing for Athletic alive and well.
For now, it doesn’t look like Remiro has a place at Athletic Club but that doesn’t rule out his future. It is probably best for everyone if he leaves the club this summer in hopes of finding a starting role at a promoted club, such as Huesca, where he can be the established keeper and maybe one day in the future he will return to his boyhood club. At worst, he could spend another season starting in the second division. Regardless, the Lezama graduate has proven that he is an exceptional goalkeeper and that he is ready to step out from behind Kepa’s shadow. Alex Remiro may not have a current role to play at Athletic, but his future is very much alive.