Three Athletic Club Players Who Already Have One Foot Out Of The Door
Preseason training is just around the corner and new Athletic manager Eduardo Berizzo has a lot of difficult decisions to make. When the summer sessions start he will have 33 players at his disposal, which includes six from Bilbao Athletic, so the squad is going to need to be trimmed down a bit. Berizzo still has to assess the team but there are already three current players who look to have one foot out of the door.
This summer there will be a battle among a handful of players for the backup striker role behind Aritz Aduriz. Sabin Merino, Gorka Guruzeta, Asier Villalibre, and maybe even Iñigo Vicente will all be vying for the job. As things stand right now, Villalibre definitely looks like the odd man out. While away on loan last season the young forward was unable to put together solid performances and looks to need more time in the Segunda to develop.
Last year he managed to score just three goals in all competitions and hasn’t convinced anyone that he is ready to play a role in the first team. Eduardo Berizzo will, of course, give him the chance to fight for his place but the club is already entertaining offers for him to leave again on loan. So far Tenerife have made their interest clear and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the 20-year-old train under Joseba Etxeberria next season.
Even without signing any new players from this point on, there are too many midfielders in the squad and Eduardo Berizzo is going to have to make some difficult decisions. One of those players who is already on the outside looking in is Mikel Vesga. He started last season as a starter but quickly lost his place and barely featured in the second half of the campaign. Now it looks like he will be leaving once again with reports claiming that Athletic have already told him that he isn’t a part of the plans for the upcoming season.
Getafe have already contacted Athletic regarding their interest in signing him, with Alavés and Sportigon Gijon also monitoring his situation. At this point it looks nearly impossible for Vesga to overtake Dani García, Mikel San José, Ander Iturraspe, Beñat, Raúl García, and Unai López for a place in the team. Vesga is still under contract through 2021 which makes next season vitally important if he wants to continue his career at Athletic Club.
Mikel Rico was actually one of the few bright spots during last year’s disappointing campaign. His experience and leadership played a big role, but now it looks like his time at the San Mamés may be coming to an end. Already 33 years old, his best football is behind him and if he wants to play regular minutes he will likely need to leave the club because there just won’t be enough playing time to go around.
Huesca, who recently earned promotion to the Primera for the first time in their club’s history, would love to bring Rico back to the team. The midfielder played in over 70 games for Huesca earlier in his career and they would be able to offer him the chance to be a starter. It will be up to Berizzo to decide if Rico can still have a role at Athletic, but right now all signs point to his exit due to competition at his position.
At the end of the day Eduardo Berizzo is going to be the one to make the decisions. He wants to evaluate the entire team to be sure that he is putting together the best squad and that means that everyone will have the opportunity to fight for their place and convince the new manager. That being said, it isn’t difficult to read between the lines and these three players are the most likely to leave this summer. They can change that, but it will take a lot of work and some great performances in the preseason.