Rafa Alkorta “There Aren’t Many Players Who Can Improve What We Already Have”
There will be plenty of changes at Athletic this summer. New President Aitor Elizegi will begin putting his programs into effect and Sporting Director Rafa Alkorta will introduce his vision for Lezama. Alkorta will also be responsible for strengthening the first team, although he told Onda Vasca that it will be hard to realistically sign players better than those who are currently in the squad.
“It’s very complicated to sign new players because there aren’t many who can improve what we already have”, he said. “We have certain positions covered with young players and that makes it difficult for others to come.” Fernando Llorente is believed to be one of the top targets despite many fans not wanting the striker to return. “I don’t really understand the animosity for Llorente on the part of the fans”, admitted Alkorta. “I don’t look back and I don’t blame one or the other. The only thing I know is that he’s a great forward.”
Ander Herrera and Javi Martinez are two other potential targets for the Lions, however Alkorta doesn’t think they will come back to San Mamés. “Ander Herrera is surely going to another team, and Javi Martinez will likely also go to another team or stay in Germany”, said the Sporting Director. “The little we know about Fernando Llorente is that he’s happy at Tottenham and playing in the Champions League. Those are the three players we have been watching closely since January.”
While new players may be coming to the club, others will be saying goodbye. Ander Iturraspe and Mikel Rico will not have their contracts renewed and Alkorta admitted that breaking the news to the pair was one of the hardest things that he has ever had to do.
“To say to two players like them, who have been here many years, that they won’t continue is very hard. I didn’t think it would be so hard. It’s been the most difficult moment for me since I started in this role. I didn’t know what to say to them. They are such good professionals that they understood perfectly that this is part of football. I believe that they both will continue to play at a good level.”