Xabi Etxeita “All The Words I Have For Athletic Are Positive”
Xabi Etxeita’s time at Athletic has come to an end. The center-back enjoyed a very successful season on loan with Huesca last year, but it wasn’t enough to convince Athletic to renew his contract. Last week the club announced that Etxeita would be leaving after seven seasons at San Mamés. The 31-year-old has since spoken with Jon Zubieta of Mundo Deportivo where he revealed that he’s already received several offers from other clubs.
“There is interest from several teams. I have also rejected some offers and I’m waiting a bit to see how things can be closed. There have been some offers from abroad. I am listening to things at first, but my idea is to continue in La Liga and that is what we are doing. If there is something interesting from outside I will listen, but my intention is to continue in La Liga.”
Huesca have already made an offer for Etxeita to continue at Alcoraz next season, but the defender is only thinking about staying in La Liga. At this point he’s taking the time to regroup after a difficult season, though he believes his loan was successful because he was able to play regular minutes.
“It’s true that Huesca have told me that they want me to continue, but my idea is to continue in La Liga. I think that I will have options to continue playing in this league. We will wait to see if I can specify something. I’m in a good mood. I’m disconnecting a bit now. It hasn’t been an easy year because we spent all season at the bottom of the table. On a personal level I have also been able to fulfill one of the most important goals for me, which was to have continuity because in recent years I have not had it. As a result of that I had the opportunity to get score goals also.”
Etxeita went on to explain that he had regular contact with Athletic while away on loan, though he never spoke with Gaizka Garitano. He understands that there are other players in his position at the club and that a time comes when everyone must face a new challenge.
“I had contact with Athletic while away, with the sports management, but not with the coach. They decided not to count on me next season. You have to understand it. They also have very good and very young players in my position. They have decided to trust them. I have completed a stage of my career, but it hasn’t only happened with me. It happens with everyone. This year there have been players like Markel, like Iturraspe and Rico who are leaving. My situation is very different. Football is always changing.”
Despite not having his contract renewed, Etxeita has nothing negative to say about Athletic. It was always his dream to play at San Mamés and he is happy with how the club has always treated him throughout his career.
“I can’t say anything bad about Athletic. All the words I have for Athletic are positive because my dream has always been to play for Athletic. I was there for seven years. I could have been better, worse, playing more or less, but the treatment I had was always very good. The memory that I will have of Athletic is always going to be good. I knew that staying would be difficult. I’m realistic and I see that they have three center-backs that are young and performing well. Not qualifying for Europe reduced the possibility of returning.”
Leaving on loan last summer came as no surprise. Etxeita had struggled for minutes the two previous seasons and admitted that he needed to play somewhere else to enjoy football again. The 31-year-old was able to feature regularly for Huesca and believes that he can still perform at a high level.
“The last two years have not been good because I didn’t have the feeling of being important. As a footballer you want and need to feel important and that you contribute to the team as much as possible. I have always tried to contribute my best to Athletic, but I needed to leave to have minutes and enjoying playing football. In that sense, things have gone well. I have the desire to continue competing at the highest level and I think I can still give good performances.”
When asked about Athletic only having three center-back in the team now, Etxeita admitted that he believes a fourth will be added. He recognizes that there is a lot of talent coming through Lezama and that is where the club could turn this summer to add depth.
“I don’t know if having only three center-backs is good or bad. It’s true that not playing in Europe alleviates a bit of the fatigue, but you never know. Many things can happen during the season and I suppose they won’t be left with just three. They will also look to youth where they will see players with the possibility to join the team. In that sense, I think Athletic has transmitted confidence in the players who have come from below and they will be calm.”
In closing, Etxeita took a moment to praise Lezama. Over the past few years, young players have regularly been promoted to the first team and many have found great success. Etxeita expects this to continue for the foreseeable future.
“Athletic has always raised players from the academy. Seeing the last few years, all the players who have come up have given great performances. I think the fans and everyone have to be calm because Lezama works very well and that has been proven. We are seeing it. Year after year good players continue to come up and I think that next year and the following years will be quite similar.”
Xabi Etxeita served the club well during his 7 years with the Zurigorri and has always been a respected professional. Whether or not he continues playing in La Liga or leaves Spain altogether, Athletic will always be his home.