Iker Undabarrena joined Lezama back in 2005 when he was just 10 years old. He immediately began to stand out as one of the best players in his age group and quickly started climbing the youth categories. He actually got his first taste of the first team when he made his debut under Marcelo Bielsa in a Europa League match against Hapoel and was promoted to Bilbao Athletic the following season. Since then the midfielder has gone on to play in over 100 games for the reserve side, despite suffering two serious knee injuries, but has spent the last few years waiting for his chance to join the senior squad. That dream may now be over.
According to a report from Javier Ortiz de Lazcano of El Correo, Undabarrena is likely to leave the club this summer. After suffering his last knee ligament injury, Athletic offered Undabarrena a contract renewal that did not include a promotion to the first team. The 22-year-old rejected the proposal and made a counter offer in October that was a bit higher and the club has yet to respond. Undabarrena is out of contract this summer but did have a clause that the Lions could have triggered to extend his deal for one more season. However, the clause stipulates that he would be promoted to the first team. The deadline to activate the clause was on Tuesday and Athletic chose not to execute it.
Undabarrena is arguably the best midfield product at Bilbao Athletic at the moment and has been so for a few years now. His path to the first team has been blocked, but with such poor performances this season there was a belief that he could get the chance to train with the first team this summer. However, with the arrival of Dani Garcia and potential signing of Mikel Merino the path has narrowed once again. Without an avenue to the first team and Athletic choosing not to promote the 22-year-old, it looks like Undabarrena’s days in Bilbao may be coming to an end. There is always a chance of things changing, but for now that doesn’t look likely.
Despite what may happen this summer, Undabarrena still has a huge role to play in Bilbao Athletic’s quest for promotion. The Katxorros will host Villarreal B at the San Mamés this Sunday for the first leg of their playoff draw which is sure to attract fans to the stadium. As Captain, Undabarrena has been an integral part of the team’s success since coming back from his knee injury and he will need to continue playing at a high level if the Kumeak are to earn their place in the Segunda. If promotion is achieved who knows what the future may hold.