It has been a long wait for Athletic fans, but it is finally over. Kuko Ziganda will be leaving his post as manager at the end of the season and will be replaced by Eduardo Berizzo. The Argentine’s arrival has been one of the worst kept secrets in football, but the fact that other clubs continued to reach out to him during negotiations with Athletic left many feeling that his decision to come to the San Mamés was not a sure thing. On Tuesday his representatives met with the Basques to shore up all the loose ends of his contract while Berizzo enjoyed one of his last days off visiting friends in Vigo. Now it is settled.
On Wednesday Athletic Club and Eduardo Berizzo reached a contract agreement for one season with the option for a second if the team qualifies for European competition. Berizzo will be given €1.5 million in wages for himself and his staff. In addition, he will be bringing at least four assistants with him that will join the coaching staff. His lawyers and representatives will be making the trip to Bilbao in the next few days to ties up any loose ends and officially sign the contract. The Basque giants will not announce Berizzo as the new manager until the current season ends, but they are targeting a presentation next week, hopefully on Monday.
Berizzo has had plenty of other offers to this point. Colo Colo, Flamengo, Universidad de Chile, Ecuador, and Nice have all reached out to the 48-year-old in hopes of luring him away from Athletic, but they failed. Berizzo has been interested in coaching at the San Mamés since last summer and, after learning that he was the top choice during the current coaching search, politely rejected offers from other clubs. He really likes the way that Athletic is run, the environment, structure, and the focus on youth. Athletic has always been Berizzo’s first choice destination and now that has become a reality.
Over the past few weeks the Argentine has been operating under the belief that he was going to be hired by Athletic. He has been watching first team matches, studying Lezama, and discussing potential transfers with the club all in anticipation for the preseason. With the agreement now settled, the only thing that is left is for the club to formally present Eduardo Berizzo as the new manager. This will take place some time after Sunday’s match, which is the final game of the season. Athletic have been working hard to finalize everything in order to hold the presentation on Monday which looks to be the most likely day for the official announcement.