Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Alavés at Mendizorrotza was just another drop in the bucket of disappointing results this season. Athletic went into the game hoping to build on a big win over Real Betis, but fell back into their inconsistent ways. Although everyone will walk away from the game with their heads down, there is one who may be more upset than anyone else. Mikel Rico suffered an injury towards the end of the first half and had to be replaced by Mikel San José when he wasn’t able to continue. No decisions have been made, but there is a chance that this could have been his last match in an Athletic shirt.
At halftime Athletic Club announced that Rico had suffered an injury to his right hamstring and will undergo further tests to determine the severity of the issue. The Lions will play their last game of the season on Sunday against Espanyol and it is very likely that he will not be recovered in time to participate. With changes coming to the squad this summer and Rico already 33-year-old there is chance that he could leave the team during the upcoming transfer window.
Since returning to Athletic Club back in 2013, Mikel Rico has worn a number of hats. At first he played a very important role in the team but slowly saw his minutes decrease. In the last two seasons under Ernesto Valverde he featured solely as a rotational player, but his leadership in the locker room was unquestioned. This season, Rico broke into Kuko Ziganda’s lineup by being the only midfielder who was able to play at a consistently high level. Sadly, he hasn’t been able to string together starts due to injuries like the one he suffered against Alavés.
If Mikel Rico is unable to play on Sunday it will leave Kuko Ziganda with a difficult decision to make. Mikel San José is already ruled out for the match due to suspension which leaves only Beñat, Mikel Vesga, and Ander Iturraspe as available midfielders. There may not be anything left to play for at this point other than pride, but the Lions have made it clear that they want to end the season with a win at the San Mamés in front of their own fans.