Why Asier Villalibre Has Been Unable To Play For The First Team This Season
Returning to Bilbao Athletic has proved to the perfect move for Asier Villalibre. After spending the last few years struggling to perform while away on loan, the striker has rediscovered his best football with the Katxorros and has proved he’s ready to take the next step in his career. In fact, he’s played so well that it seems odd he hasn’t been called up to the first team, but there’s a reason.
Villalibre began the summer with the first team as he was an official first team player. His license was with the first team and when the club made the decision to permanently send him back to Bilbao Athletic his status changed. A regulation prevented him from being allowed to return to the senior squad during the same season and, even if Garitano wanted to call him up, it’s prohibited.
The situation is quite different for Gorka Guruzeta and Peru Nolaskoain. Both are official first team players and are free to feature for Bilbao Athletic at any time. Meanwhile, Villalibre’s status was altered from a first team player to a Bilbao Athletic player again which brings the regulation into force in order to protect the young forward.
In a way, being unable to play for the first team this season has been a good thing for the Lezama product. He hasn’t had to deal with the pressure and has been free to focus solely on his performances with Bilbao Athletic. On Saturday the 21-year-old scored his 18th goal of the season, the first time that’s happened for the reserve team in 30 years, and finally looks ready for the next challenge. His current contract is set to expire in June but Athletic plan to renew Asier Villalibre and have him train with the first team during the summer.