Gorka Guruzeta And Unai López Will Stay At Athletic Despite Still Receiving Loan Offers From Other Clubs
Gorka Guruzeta and Unai López came into the summer with a lot of expectations and something to prove. They had both enjoyed very successful seasons and fans believed that they were ready to earn their place in the Athletic first team. Even before the preseason began the club was receiving loan offers for the pair, but it doesn’t look like they will be going anywhere.
Guruzeta led Bilbao Athletic in scoring last year with 18 goals and looked poised to make a run at promotion this summer. With the first team in need of help offensively he had a real chance of fighting for a place in Berizzo’s squad, especially considering the fact that Asier Villalibre and Sabin Merino have struggled over the last two years. Although he has yet to play as a striker under the new manager he has performed very well on the wing, scoring a goal and providing an assist.
Berizzo had high words of praise for the 21-year-old after the team competed in the Traditions Cup last weekend. “Guruzeta has the speed to play in the first division. He’s a physically strong player and can function in several attacking positions”. There is no denying the fact that the forward has been exceptional this summer. For the most part he’s fit in seamlessly with the other first team players and looks like he’s already part of the squad.
Other clubs have continued to ask to sign him on loan, namely Real Oviedo and Real Zaragoza, but as things stand right now Berizzo has no plans to offload Guruzeta. Sources say that he really likes the forward’s ability to play in multiple positions and his fearlessness in attack. He can add another dimension to the offense and, unless something changes, appears set to be officially promoted to the first team.
Unai López has had an even more difficult path to staying at Athletic. Although Berizzo was a big fan of the player from watching his matches with Rayo Vallecano last season, there was already a lot of competition in the team that he would have to overcome. Iker Muniain, Raúl García, Beñat, Ander Iturraspe, Mikel Rico, and Mikel San José all stood in his way and the 22-year-old has done well to convince the manager.
He scored the first goal of the summer and has looked remarkable in friendlies to this point. López has been able to play the Anchor role in Berizzo’s system perfectly and is finally ready to compete in the first division. The midfielder even said in an interview that he is a different player now. “I’m not the same kid that debuted with the first team at 18-years-old”. López is playing with confidence and that is wonderful news for Athletic.
Like Guruzeta, López still has offers to leave on loan. Rayo Vallecano have already asked Athletic several times if they can sign him for a second season, but the Basques have continued to reject the approaches according to Alfonso Herrán of AS. Berizzo believes that López can play an important role in the team this season and the decision has already been made that he will stay at the San Mamés.
This year’s Athletic team will look vastly different from the others over the past few years. After not signing any new players since 2015 there have been four additions in Dani García, Ander Capa, Christian Ganea, and Yuri Berchiche. Couple that with young stars like Guruzeta, Unai López, and Peru Nolaskoain and the squad is starting to take on a new identity. The Eduardo Berizzo era has already begun and Athletic Club look poised for a strong year competing for European qualification.