Markel Susaeta’s Athletic Club Career May Be Coming To An End
Markel Susaeta isn’t the same player he used to be. Playing 505 games takes a toll on any footballer and that certainly appears to be the case for the Athletic captain. Just a few years ago there was concern as to who could possibly replace the winger, now the question is whether or not he can even contribute anymore at this level.
The past couple of years haven’t been kind to Susaeta. His production has drastically diminished and he’s even been a liability at times this season. Sunday’s match against Getafe perfectly summarized the situation for the 31-year-old. Susaeta completed just 60% of his passes and lost the ball 6 times. His crosses were consistently too short or too long and he was caught out of position more than his fair share. In truth, it looked as though the captain knew what to do, but his body just wouldn’t cooperate.
Susaeta has come to a crossroads in his career. After 12 seasons with his boyhood club, his contract is set to expire in June. So far Athletic have yet to offer the winger a renewal, though President Aitor Elizegi has said on several occasions that he believes the issue will be resolved. Now there are multiple sources who claim that an extension may never come. His time at San Mamés may be coming to an end.
The decision will ultimately be up to Gaizka Garitano and Rafa Alkorta. The pair have already started working on the plans for next season and must determine whether or not Susaeta is a part of those plans. Meanwhile, the 31-year-old wants to continue playing for Athletic and is patiently waiting to find out what will happen.
If Susaeta is given a renewal it wouldn’t be a surprise. He is a leader in the squad and has more experience than anyone else, which is invaluable. Continuing with the team next year would see Susaeta play a more limited role and provide important depth at a key position. He may not be able to perform at the same level he used to, but he has still had some big moments this season and having him available definitely isn’t a bad thing.
On the other hand, Garitano and Alkorta could decide that it’s time to move on. It’s never easy saying goodbye to a club legend, but if they believe letting Susaeta leave is the best thing for the team then they must do it. Allowing the captain to walk away would give opportunities to younger players who are ready to fight for their place in the first team. Iñigo Vicente and Gaizka Larrazabal have both been fantastic for Bilbao Athletic and one of them could realistically take Susaeta’s place in the squad next season.
No matter what happens, this isn’t an easy decision. Susaeta has had one of the greatest careers in Athletic history and if he continues next season then he deserves the full support of the fans. If he leaves, he should be remembered for the legend that he is and for giving absolutely everything to the club. For now, he will simply wait to find out what happens next. Fans should take the time to appreciate these last few weeks of the season because they could be watching the end of one of the best players to ever put on the Zurigorri shirt.