Athletic Club needs to find an answer to their offensive problems this summer. Aside from Aritz Aduriz, the Basque giants have struggled to score goals and that can’t continue if they want to return to being a European competitor once again. The issue is that there aren’t many options to choose from in Athletic’s limited transfer pool of players. However, there is one that could potentially improve the squad that isn’t being talked about – Ibai Gómez.
Gómez joined Bilbao Athletic back in 2010 and spent time between the reserves and senior squad until he was awarded a full promotion not too long afterwards. He made over 100 appearances for Athletic until suffering a major injury just a few years ago that seemingly ended his time at the San Mamés. After making a full recovery the club allowed him to leave for free in order to join Basque neighbors Alavés where he has spent the last two seasons. In these two years with Alavés Ibai Gómez has been superb.
Now that he has been able to enjoy the role of a starter, unlike being a rotational player with Athletic, Gómez has shown great consistency and has been one of Alavés’ most important players. Last year he managed to score five goals and give three assists and he has improved those numbers this year with five goals and five assists with nine games left to play. In fact, Gómez has scored the second most goals for the club this season, only one behind leader Munir El Haddadi. He still has a knack for finding the back of the net, especially at the biggest moments.
With the 28-year-old playing the best football of his career since 2013-2014, when he scored eight goals for Athletic, it is a bit surprising that he isn’t being linked with a return. His potential transfer fee shouldn’t be excessive and he is capable of playing on either wing which could give the Lions much-needed versatility. Add in the fact that he has been an Athletic fan since he was a child and has experience in La Liga and the move looks like it would be exciting. But the rumor mill just isn’t turning.
Perhaps Athletic are aware that Gómez would not be a regular fixture in the team and that has led them to look for other alternatives like Osasuna’s Kike Barja who could see his €4 million release clause triggered this summer. Still, there is no doubt that Ibai Gómez could give Athletic another attacking option. At 28, the winger is still in the peak of his career and his injury looks to be a thing of the past. If he continues to play at this high level perhaps a return will be in the cards down the road, but for now it just doesn’t look like there are any plans for a homecoming.