Mikel Balenziaga “Not Having Release Clauses Can Be Good For The Club And A Positive Thing For The Players”
Mikel Balenziaga and Oscar De Marcos surprised Athletic fans on Friday when the pair signed contract extensions through 2021 that do not contain release clauses. The following day the pair gave a joint press conference following training at Lezama and Balenziaga told reporters that there is something special about the club. He will always support Athletic.
“I was in the academy at Real Sociedad to begin with and when I arrived at Athletic I saw that this club was different. Things are done differently from other clubs where I have been. When I returned from Valladolid, with Josu Urrutia as President, they really showed me what it was like to feel Athletic and to represent these colors. Thanks to them and what they have instilled in me, I am and I always will be Athletic. To be Athletic is something that doesn’t require convincing. You have to live it.”
The 30-year-old spoke several weeks ago about the fact that he was hoping to earn a new contract and now that he has put pen to paper on a new deal he’s very excited. Moving forward he’s going to continue working hard to earn regular minutes under manager Gaizka Garitano.
“I am very happy for the trust the club has placed in me and I hope to return it. I’ve experienced everything. In my first years I didn’t play that much, now his is my eighth and I’m ready for anything. You have to be prepared and give your best, the coach will decide who plays. The club has always shown a lot of confidence in me.”
When asked about the decision not to include a release clause Balenziaga said that it wasn’t needed. He thanked teammate Iker Muniain for blazing the trail of not having clauses and believes that it could be a good thing for the club and players moving forward.
“The process has been easy and the club has shown great confidence in me. Thanks to Iker this path has been opened to us and the other players. I’ve already said that this is what I’ve always wanted, to be at Athletic, so there is no need for a release clause. Understanding the philosophy of Athletic, this can be a good thing for the club and a positive thing for the players for the future.”
Balenziaga is competing with Yuri Berchiche for the starting left-back role which gives the team plenty of competition. With the January transfer window opening in a few weeks Alavés star Ibai Gómez has been linked with a return and Balenziaga said that he would love to have the winger back. “He is a player who is doing things very well at Alavés and, if the club decides to bring him back, we would be delighted and he would help us.” In the meantime, Athletic are preparing to face Gómez and Alavés on Monday night at Mendizorrotza and recent training sessions suggest that Balenziaga could be set to start over Berchiche.