Athletic Club’s pursuit of manager Thomas Tuchel has been quite the spectacle. When rumors initially surfaced that the Basque giants were interested in the German coach it seemed to be nothing more than wishful thinking. As expected, reports quickly came out saying that Tuchel had not been contacted by the club and that he wasn’t being viewed as a serious option. He then rejected Bayern Munich which changed everything. Athletic have since made him an offer to become the manager this summer and he is said to be considering it, among others options.
Even though the pursuit has now become serious, it is still extremely unlikely that Tuchel will decide to come to the San Mamés. In fact, reports now suggest that he is close to agreeing to take over at PSG, while Arsenal and Chelsea also remain in the mix. The 44-year-old still has not given an answer to Athletic but the Basques are not optimistic of their chances. According to Alfonso Herrán of AS, they already have a backup option in place and are working to seal that deal. It is non other than Eduardo Berizzo.
Berizzo was the only candidate in the running last year to compete with Kuko Ziganda for the Athletic job, but in the end he joined Sevilla where things didn’t go as planned. Sevilla’s form dipped and Berizzo was diagnosed with cancer. Upon returning from medical leave in December he was soon relieved of his duties and has been out of coaching since. The Argentine has been a favorite to take over at Athletic Club from the moment it became clear that Ziganda would be leaving.
Athletic’s interest in Berizzo makes a lot of sense. He is a proven coach in La Liga, has a history of developing young players, and is known for playing an aggressive and passionate style of football. But those aren’t even the most exciting factors. Berizzo also comes from the school of Marcelo Bielsa, who Athletic fans still hold in high esteem today due to his success at the club between 2011 and 2013. Like Bielsa, Berizzo is a fiery coach who can get the best out of his players while also having a brilliant mind for the tactics and intricate details of the game.
Despite all of his similarities with Bielsa, Berizzo also has some differences that could work out in his favor. One knock on Bielsa during his time at Athletic was his strenuous and overbearing approach that seemed to run the players into the ground. On the flip side, Berizzo is much more laid back and tends to connect more with his players. At this point the vast majority of Athletic fans would welcome Berizzo with open arms and that could end up being exactly what happens.
For the time being, Tuchel is still the focal point of all of this. Athletic’s offer is on the table and he will have to make a decision. Meanwhile, the Lions are also very excited about the possibility of hiring Berizzo if that is the way that things unfold. Understandably, fans are hoping that the hiring process doesn’t get drawn out and that the Basque giants will be able to land one of the two as quickly as possible. If Tuchel continues to drag his feet it wouldn’t be surprising to see Athletic pull their offer and focus all of their attention on Berizzo, which they are basically already doing right now.