Aitor Elizegi Is Leaving Transfer Signings Up To Rafa Alkorta And Gaizka Garitano
Aitor Elizegi is facing his first transfer window just one week after winning the Athletic Club Presidential election. With the team struggling on the field this season fans want to see the new Board of Directors sign someone like Ibai Gómez or Fernando Llorente to add quality to the squad and Elizegi is willing to entertain that possibility.
“There is only one goal and that is to finish the season well”, he told Javier Beltrán in an interview with AS. “Until the season is over there is no truce. It’s importance to close the season with solvency that the Socios can enjoy a little. Now we face the transfer window and it is necessary to be even more attentive, more balanced, and that fits well with Alkorta, Ayarza, Garitano, and Ferreira.”
It’s no secret that the Athletic fans want to see the club sign at least one new player in January. “The fans are talking about reinforcements, I can’t hide that”, Elizegi said. “The signings will be what Alkorta and Garitano say. I’ve left the sports committee together with Garitano. They gathered calmly and there is a group working to explore the squad and potential reinforcements.” The President is trusting Sporting Director Rafa Alkorta and manager Gaizka Garitano to decide what moves, if any, the team should make.
When specifically discussing Ibai Gómez and Fernando Llorente, Elizegi made it clear that Athletic must dialogue with their clubs. “Llorente has clearly said that he wants to come, but he’s also referred us to Tottenham. We don’t know what it means to negotiate with Tottenham in January, or to do it with any European club in January. In this case I think Ibai and Alavés have it more clear. I don’t know if Tottenham is clear [about wanting to sell Llorente], but he has his rights.”
Elizegi was also asked about the fact that he has convinced Alex Remiro to resume contract negotiations after the goalkeeper told former President Josu Urrutia that he would not accept a renewal. “We already said in the campaign that we were going to talk to him”, said Elizegi. “We are contacting every player whose contract is ending and, of course, that includes Remiro. Out of respect you have to know your employment status, they are employees of the club. The decisions of Remiro could be a medium term decisions, perhaps tomorrow what counts is the short term one and who is going to play in Vigo. I can’t tell if it [Remiro sitting out games] has been a technical or institutional decision. It is normal to feel that a player wants to be a part of our project.”
There was fear that Remiro had already agreed to personal terms with Real Sociedad several months ago, but his willingness to negotiate with Athletic casts doubt. Speaking of other Basque clubs, Elizegi also admitted that he wants to improve the relationship with Athletic’s neighbors. “Yes, I have had time to talk a little with Alavés, Real, and Eibar”, he said when asked if he is already working on the issues.
Before ending the interview Elizegi was asked about his recent controversial comments where he said that he would like to see European match between Spain and the Basque Country. “Those of us who like the world of football believe that it’s a game in which very nice things could happen, out of respect”, he answered. “I don’t see it as a political statements. It’s a sin in which I hope not to fall. Football is lived with the heart and the feelings, it has nothing to do with politics. That group of players feel represented around the community, which is what I’m talking about. Politics has nothing to do with it.”
January is going to be challenging month for the new President. Not only is he overseeing his first transfer window, there are six players on expiring contracts who need attention and the team will be playing 6 games over the span of 20 days. The Aitor Elizegi era of Athletic Club is already in full swing and the fans are hopeful that good things will come in 2019.