Cristian Ganea And Andoni López Set To Leave Athletic Club On Loan
Before preseason training even started, several Athletic players knew they would be facing a difficult challenge. With a squad of 33 players and no European competition, there just isn’t room for everybody and some will have to leave. It will be up to Gaizka Garitano to put together the strongest team possible and some already know their fate.
According to a report from Javier Beltrán AS, Garitano has already told Cristian Ganea that he isn’t part of the plans this season. The 27-year-old will field loan offers and is expected to return to the Segunda for the upcoming campaign. Having Yuri Berchiche and Mikel Balenziaga standing in the way means that Ganea would rarely see the field at Athletic and the Romanian knows that the best way to prove himself is to have regular minutes elsewhere.
The competition at left-back also means that Andoni López will likely leave on loan as well. The 23-year-old signed a renewal with Athletic through 2021 last summer before joining Almeria where he performed well. However, he will also be without chances at San Mamés. Both players could make their exits before the end of the month, and possibly before the team leaves for Germany on 21 July.
Peru Nolaskoain is another player who will leave for the year unless something changes. Real Zaragoza have been in talks with Athletic for a few weeks now and all parties believe that it will be the best destination. Zaragoza are willing to offer Nolaskoain a starting role and Athletic would pay more of the midfielder’s wages depending on how many minutes he’s given while on loan. However, the move likely won’t happen until Yeray and Unai Nuñez finalize their contract extensions with Athletic. Garitano is even willing to give Nolaskoain the chance to prove himself so the 20-year-old may not leave until August.
Once Unai Simón returns from his extended vacation there will be four goalkeepers in the first team. Iago Herrerín and Simón will both have important roles in the squad which means that Hodei Oleaga and Jokin Ezkieta are currently competing for the third goalkeeper spot. Garitano is said to be open to keeping three, though it’s more likely that both Oleaga and Ezkieta will leave on loan. The club also hasn’t ruled out one of the two playing with Bilbao Athletic this season.
Several other players already have loan interest but their fates have not been decided. Rayo Vallecano are once again chasing Unai López while Almeria have expressed interest in both Iñigo Vicente and Gaizka Larrazabal. Leganés would like to bring back Mikel Vesga and Asier Villalibre has attracted multiple offers from the Segunda if he’s unable to earn his place in the first team this summer.
The ultimate goal is for Garitano to put together the strongest possible team that can compete for European qualification. From there, it’s important that other players, especially those who are younger, find ways to have regular minutes and continue their development. Garitano would like to trim the squad from 33 down to around 24 which means that competition will be a driving force throughout the preseason.