Unai López Faces A Summer Of Uncertainty
Last summer was full of excitement for Unai López. After a very successful season on loan with Rayo Vallecano the midfielder was primed for an important role at Athletic and Eduardo Berizzo was ready to give it to him. The Lezama product was rewarded a new contract running through 2022 and Berizzo made it clear during the preseason that the goal was for López to be a regular in the starting lineup.
One year later and things have changed. López quickly lost his place in the team and barely featured once Gaizka Garitano took over as manager. The midfielder did make a few appearances in the second half of the season and looked impressive, though his chances were few and far between. This summer López will go into preseason training needing to prove that he still deserves a place in the team.
It won’t be easy. Not only will there be several midfielders competing for limited spots in the team, but Athletic are also looking to trim the wage bill after failing to qualify for Europe for a second straight year. Getting López’s wages off the books in favor of someone like Oihan Sancet would certainly help the club. The future is unclear at this point and it will be up to López to convince Garitano.
Based on his form at the end of the season, as well as his loan spell with Rayo, López has shown that he can produce. Whether or not he will be able to continue at Athletic remains to be seen. Preseason won’t be easy. The 24-year-old will have to be at his best to earn his place but Unai López is not shying away from the challenge. He wants to succeed at Athletic and is ready to fight for his future at San Mamés.