Iago Herrerín Doesn’t Want To Be A Backup Anymore, Which Puts Athletic Club In A Precarious Position
Athletic Club have an embarrassment of riches at goalkeeper which has created a problem that most other clubs wish they had to deal with. The Basques have a world class starter in Kepa, a backup that is good enough to start for half of the teams in La Liga in Iago Herrerin, a young budding star in Alex Remiro, and a 20-year-old showing immense potential in Unai Simon. Athletic are in a very enviable position, but it also means that they will have to make some difficult decisions.
Since returning to Athletic in 2012, Herrerín has held the role of backup and Cup keeper, except for 2016/2017 when he joined Leganés on loan and was a starter in La Liga. That taste of playing every week has stuck with the 30-year-old who recently admitted in an interview that he doesn’t want to be a backup anymore and will talk to the club this summer to figure out what his options are. He went as far to say that his “time at Athletic may be finished” and that he has had “seven or eight clubs” show interest in signing him. However, it is important to note that he also said “If I have to stay then I will fight with Kepa for minutes as I always have”. So for now it looks as though he is still putting his future in the hands of the club.
Herrerin signed a contract extension through 2021 back in January, which makes things even more difficult. He most likely signed the deal under the belief that Kepa Arrizabalaga was going to be leaving, but that obviously didn’t happen. Now the 30-year-old is going to have to make a decision about his career, but the consequences of any choice are going to reverberate throughout the team. Whatever happens with Herrerín is going to have a domino affect on other players.
This year, while on loan with Huesca, Alex Remiro proved that he is ready to take the next step in his career and face Primera competition. The 23-year-old was the best keeper in the Segunda and it only makes sense that the Lions want him to sign a contract renewal. His current deal is set to expire in 2019 so time is clearly of the essence. Athletic made an offer a few months ago, but Remiro asked for time to think about his decision. Right now he knows that he will not be overtaking Kepa as the starter so the best thing for him will likely be to stay at Huesca on loan for the upcoming season since the club will be competing in La Liga for the first time in their history. That would allow Remiro to play regular minutes and continue his development while also remaining tied to Athletic. It was recently reported that Remiro had agreed to sign an extension if it would allow him to stay at Huesca, but that is in danger now.
The futures of Iago Herrerín and Alex Remiro are tied together. If Herrerín accepts a backup role and stays at the club it will allow Remiro to spend another season on loan. However, if Herrerín demands a transfer then Remiro would be the clear choice to take his place in the team. The 23-year-old knows he needs to play regular minutes and being asked to sit behind Kepa all year could result in him rejecting a renewal offer. Simply put, if Iago Herrerín decides that he wants to leave the club it could result in Athletic losing both goalkeepers.
There is another option for Athletic if Herrerín decides to ask for a transfer. The Lions could still allow Remiro to leave on loan and look to sign a backup keeper from elsewhere. Levante’s Oier Olazabal stands out as someone who could be a realistic target, or perhaps Athletic could push Gorka Iraizoz for a return to the San Mamés. The fact of the matter is that if Iago Herrerín leaves it will put Athletic Club in a very precarious position that could have seriously negative implications. It will be up to the new manager to sort things out this summer and the best thing that could happen for the club would be for Herrerín to stay and for Remiro to sign a contract renewal, but that may be easier said than done.