Athletic Legend Aitor Larrazábal Believes That The Club Must Find A Successor To Aritz Aduriz
Aitor Larrazábal is an Athletic legend that fans still hold in high regard today. The left-back featured in 445 matches for the club and was a mainstay for 14 seasons. Since retiring he has become a coach, but is still very much a fan of Athletic and his son, Gaizka, plays for Bilbao Athletic. Over the weekend he conducted an interview with Mundo Deportivo and praised the hiring of new manager Eduardo Berizzo.
“He is a coach that holds to Marcelo Bielsa’s philosophy, but more modern. He has his own idea of football and concept of life itself. He’s more cheerful and dynamic, but also likes to work hard and has interesting ideas. Athletic will try to play well. The team is in need of new life because there are players who have already played so many matches and there hasn’t been much continuity either. There should be some young players who will get chances, but they must first show that they can play in the Primera with Athletic.”
When asked about what the team needs to do to improve, Larrazábal made it clear that Athletic must find a suitable replacement for Aritz Aduriz who can’t be expected to continue carrying the scoring burden. He knows that the successor may not be at the club right now, which complicates things, but hopes that Raúl García and Iñaki Williams can take some of the pressure off.
“The reference point in attack is Aduriz. He’s been carrying the burden for years and that’s where we need a player who can help. Someone who can play minutes and score goals. I don’t know if his successor is already at the club, if so that player is far from being at the level and maturity to do it now. They’ve talked about Villalibre but he is still learning the Segunda and Kike Sola was never able to find minutes. Next season Aduriz Raúl García, and Iñaki Williams are the ones that are going to have to score the goals, but we need someone soon that can emerge as the bet of the future.”
Larrazábal knows that it is never easy for Athletic to sign new players due to their transfer policy, and even questioned summer target Mikel Merino who had the chance to come to the San Mamés but seemingly chose Newcastle instead. Still, he praised the fact that players like Iñaki Williams and Kepa Arrizabalaga have turned down offers from bigger clubs to stay at Athletic.
“It isn’t easy to sign new players. There is a lot of talk about transfer targets, but you don’t know who will have the last word. There are players like Mikel Merino, who seemed to have the opportunity to come to Athletic, but didn’t. If he really had the opportunity and chose to go to Newcastle, we would have to ask him if really wanted to come to Athletic or not. Every scenario is different. We’ve had players leave like Javi Martinez, Ander Herrera, and Aymeric Laporte but also others turn down offers like Iker Muniain, Iñaki Williams, and Kepa. The reaction of the team to purchase Iñigo Martinez was really positive.”
In closing, the Athletic legend highlighted Lezama, which continues to produce talented footballers. He mentioned that he believes Alex Remiro and Unai López are ready to play in La Liga, while also praising starlet Iñigo Vicente who he believes is a very special talent that could one day join the first team.
“Players coming through Lezama are always competitive and usually give good performances. Two of them, Alex Remiro and Unai López, have shown that they can play in the Primera. Then you have younger ones like Iñigo Vicente who is showing a lot of promise, which is really important. Iñigo is a talent and when he has the ball at his feet you know that anything can happen.”
This summer is going to be an interesting time at Athletic. The Lions have already announced the signings of Ander Capa and Cristian Ganea, with Dani Garcia expected to follow soon. Additionally, Athletic are still pushing to sign Mikel Merino during the window, while also keeping a close eye on others such as Ander Herrera and Yuri Berchiche. After a very disappointing season under Kuko Ziganda the hope is that Eduardo Berizzo will be able to bring back success to the San Mamés and President Josu Urrutia wants to give him the strongest squad possible to achieve that goal.