Asier Villalibre Will Return To Bilbao Athletic If He Can’t Earn A Place In The First Team
It is easy to forget that Asier Villalibre is still only 20 years old. The young striker rose through the Lezama ranks and stood out as one of the best players in his age group before finally making his first team debut under Ernesto Valverde in December of 2016. He has been pegged to become a regular at the San Mamés but has been unable to carve out his own role and has struggled to play at a high level lately.
He joined Real Valladolid on loan last summer and barely featured for the Segunda club before making the switch to Lorca midway through the season. Villalibre was able to play regularly with Lorca, but still found it difficult to score goals. Now he will be returning to Athletic this summer where he will participate in the preseason and attempt to fight for a spot in Eduardo Berizzo’s team. He will have plenty of competition with Gorka Guruzeta, Sabin Merino, and Iñigo Vicente all battling for a place behind Aritz Aduriz.
Most sources agree that Villalibre will not be able to convince Berizzo to keep him in the squad. He just hasn’t shown enough to deserve a place in the first team and the most important thing is for him to continue his development. Another loan move has looked likely, but that won’t be the case. According to a report from Javier Beltran of AS, the decision has been made that Villalibre will return to Bilbao Athletic if he isn’t able to earn a role under Berizzo.
Returning to Bilbao Athletic may look like a step backwards, but it could work out in his favor. The 20-year-old will be able to play regularly and will be more comfortable at home. Athletic prefer to keep him close right now, as opposed to another loan, and Berizzo also likes having the option to call him up to the first team if the need arrises. Gaizka Garitano would also love to have the striker in his team after losing a few key players. Villalibre is entering the final year of his contract so next season will be a time for him to prove himself and show that he does have a future at Athletic Club.