Several Athletic Club Players In Line For Possible Loans This Summer
With preseason training now underway it will be up to manager Gaizka Garitano to put together the strongest possible team for the upcoming campaign. After two straight years of failing to qualify for Europe, a top-seven finish is absolutely imperative this season. As things stand right now, there are 33 total players in the squad and that means that several will have to leave because there won’t be enough minutes to go around.
It’s clear that at least a few players will end up leaving on loan. Luckily, it won’t be difficult to find suitors. Real Zaragoza are already expected to sign Peru Nolaskoain for the year, but a deal won’t be finalized until Yeray and Unai Nuñez pen their new contracts. Iñigo Vicente has several offers from the Segunda, as well as a few first division clubs, though he could also earn a place at San Mamés this summer.
Hodei Oleaga and new signing Jokin Ezkieta are both competing to be the team’s number three goalkeeper. However, it’s very likely that they will both leave on loan or perhaps one will spend the year with Bilbao Athletic. Gaizka Larrazabal has been officially promoted to the first team so if he is unable to convince Garitano the winger could also be looking at a loan move. Likewise, Asier Villalibre hopes to establish himself after a terrific year with Bilbao Athletic but there’s no guarantee that he will stay at Athletic if there aren’t available minutes.
Others such as Andoni López and Cristian Ganea will also have to compete for a place in the team and both may be heading for another loan in order to enjoy regular minutes. With Yuri Berchiche and Mikel Balenziaga established at the position, their chances will be limited. Oihan Sancet will also have to convince Garitano, although he could return to Bilbao Athletic seeing as he is still just 19 years old.
Lastly, Unai López and Mikel Vesga are still unknowns at this point. Both midfielders have made it clear that they want to play at Athletic but they may not have the opportunities that would justify staying at San Mamés. Rayo Vallecano have already asked for López on loan while Leganés are hoping to sign Vesga for a second straight season. Both will need a strong preseason to prove that they can contribute for the Zurigorri. Iñigo Lekue’s status is also uncertain.
Having a big squad can be a blessing and a curse. There just won’t be enough opportunities to go around due to missing out on Europe so some will have to leave. Finding regular minutes for young players is a priority and Athletic already have a solution. The Lions have told interested clubs that the more minutes a loaned player gets throughout the season, the more wages Athletic will pay. This will further ensure that loans are productive and beneficial, but for now every single player is only focused on proving they deserve a role at San Mamés this summer.