Rafa Alkorta “There’s No Talent At Lezama Like Iñigo Vicente”
Failing to qualify for Europe for two consecutive seasons has put Athletic in a difficult situation. The Lions can’t afford to finish outside of the top seven again next year and manager Gaizka Garitano must rejuvenate the team to prepare for a crucial campaign. In total, six players have been called up from Bilbao Athletic and the hope is that at least one of them will be able to solidify a place in the first team.
“It’s not that easy to make it to the first team”, said Sporting Director Rafa Alkorta. “You have to do many things and improve in many areas to play in the Primera. Playing in the Segunda B is one thing, playing in the Primera is something else. I came to the first team when I was 19 but the time it takes to prepare is different now.”
One of the starlets who will try to convince the manager is Iñigo Vicente who is the most exciting player to come out of Lezama in recent memory. “Everyone has many qualities to be first-class players”, Alkorta began. “Iñigo Vicente is an impressive talent, there’s not a talent like him at Lezama.” After two incredible years with Bilbao Athletic, many believe that Vicente has proven he’s ready to take the next step in his career.
“Young players are still trying to get enough experience where they are”, cautioned Alkorta. “Vicente has had a fantastic year, but he has to take the place of another player in the Primera and those players have proven they can be here. Everyone has talent, but they have to do a lot on their part. If the coach decides that they should be in the first team then they will be. They will stay and there won’t be room for others.”
In closing, Alkorta also praised another exciting young player, 19-year-old midfielder Oihan Sancet. “Sancet is an impressive footballer, but to play in the elite you have to do many things.” The Sporting Director also highlighted the impressive development of Nico Serrano, while also taking a swipe at Villarreal President Fernando Roig who has complained about the Basques signing Serrano last season. “Nico is an important player, a great signing by Josu Urrutia. The President of Villarreal complained about us signing him, but he has I don’t know how many scouts here in Bizkaia.”
This summer will be crucial for the future of Athletic. It’s imperative that the Zurigorri return to European competition and it will be up to Garitano to ensure that the team is ready to compete at the highest level. Starlets like Vicente and Sancet will go into the preseason looking to convince the manager that they can be the ones to take the team to the next level.