Asier Villalibre “I Will Have To Give Everything From The First Day Of The Preseason”
After failing to establish himself during three different loan spells, Asier Villalibre returned to Bilbao Athletic last season where he proved that he’s ready to take the next step. The 21-year-old just signed a contract renewal with Athletic running through 2023 and will train with the first team this summer. Speaking with the club’s official magazine sent out to Socios, the striker admitted that his only goal was to continue at Athletic.
“Signing with Athletic is a dream come true. I’m really looking forward to starting next season. The long term contract is a bet on my by the club. Four years isn’t said lightly because that’s many years. I knew clearly that this is the perfect place to be. The club trusts me and they know that I will have to give everything from the first day of the preseason.”
Villalibre went on to admit that it wasn’t easy to return to Bilbao Athletic. Many saw it as a step backwards, but he believed it was an opportunity to recover his best football.
“It was not an easy decision to go back to Segunda B. I saw that I still had time and that I could come back to play well here. I didn’t see it as a step back, but as an opportunity to gain confidence again. It’s what I decided and it went well. I have improved especially in mobility and not being a static striker. I already know that it is difficult to give an even better level, but I hope to do it.”
Despite the struggles while away on loan, Villalibre says that he still learned a lot about the game of football. He’s happy to have grown and has an even stronger appreciation for Athletic.
“I learned a lot and grew a lot with the loans. Last year in the Segunda was not a year in vain. What I value the most is that I have grown psychologically. I have gone through many hard times. I suffered relegation from the Segunda with Bilbao Athletic, but also with Lorca. It’s much harder to go down when you feel alone and don’t have the warmth of home. It’s very cold outside of Athletic. You value what you have at home much more.”
Looking back, Villalibre has mostly negative memories of his time away from the club. The 21-year-old doesn’t want to leave on loan again, but says he’s better prepared if that’s what happens.
“In the beginning, the memories are of bad experiences. I would not like to leave on loan again, of course, and I will work and give everything with the intention of staying, but if in the end I have to leave because it is the best for everyone then I will do it without any problem. Now I am more confident to face whatever comes. I know there’s a lot of pressure, but I also have more control.”
In closing, Villalibre revealed that manager Gaizka Garitano has already told him that he has to have a strong preseason. The striker is determined to prove himself and recognizes that he’s still young.
“Gaizka told me that I had to have a very strong preseason. That’s the most important thing, doing well and giving everything. I’m still a kid and I still have a lot to learn about football. Some believe that I’m older, but I’m 21.”
When the preseason officially begins on 4 July Villalibre will be competing with Iñaki Williams, Aritz Aduriz, and Kenan Kodro as the four strikers in the squad. Garitano will give everyone the opportunity to prove that they deserve a place in the team and Villalibre is committed to showing that he’s ready to play at San Mamés.