Athletic Rule Out Loan Moves For Gaizka Larrazabal, Oihan Sancet, and Dani Vivian
Six Bilbao Athletic players were called up to train with the first team this season, all with the same goal of earning their place at San Mamés. Unfortunately, with a squad of 33 players, there won’t be room for everyone. Competition will be the driving force this summer. Everyone must fight to convince Gaizka Garitano and the fate of three starlets has already been decided according to a report from Juanma Velasco of Marca.
The Mister has already determined that Gaizka Larrazabal will stay with the first team when the season begins. After the departure of Markel Susaeta, the squad needs more depth on the wings and Garitano has identified the 21-year-old as the perfect fit for the role. Larrazabal recently signed a renewal with Athletic through 2021 and will now have the chance to make his debut and showcase his abilities to create chances and score goals.
Loan moves have also been ruled out for Oihan Sancet and Dani Vivian. Sancet, who just returned from international duty with the Spain U19 team, is one of the most promising young players at the club. He’s the future, and maybe even the present. A well-rounded midfielder who can do it all, many believe that the 19-year-old has a realistic chance of earning a place in the first team this summer. If not, the decision has been made that he will at least begin the season with Bilbao Athletic where he will still be able to train at times under Garitano and be available to the first team when needed.
The same is true for Dani Vivian who has already been given the role of the team’s 4th center-back behind Iñigo Martinez, Yeray, and Unai Nuñez. Athletic have so much faith in Vivian that the club chose not to renew Xabi Etxeita or sign Jonas Ramalho this summer. However, being the fourth in line means that Vivian likely won’t have many chances to see the field. When he isn’t needed by the first team, he will play games with Bilbao Athletic much like Peru Nolaskoain did last season.
For the other three starlets, decisions must still be made. Iñigo Vicente and Asier Villalibre have proven that they are ready to take the next steps in their careers but face intense competition at their positions. Three other strikers will battle Villalibre while Vicente, who is much better centrally than on the wing, has the likes of Raúl García and Iker Muniain standing in his way. The pair already have several clubs who want to sign them on loan.
Vicente and Villalibre will be given the chance to earn their place, but it won’t be easy. Meanwhile, Hodei Oleaga and Jokin Ezkieta are competing for the third goalkeeper role. Seeing as how Athletic won’t be competing in Europe this season, there really isn’t a need to keep three goalkeepers which means Oleaga will likely leave on loan. Ezkieta could also leave, though he has publically admitted that he’s open to spending the year with Bilbao Athletic.
The six coming up from Bilbao Athletic aren’t the only ones who will have to convince the manager. Garitano is looking to trim the squad from 33 down to roughly 24 which means others will leave as well. Cristian Ganea and Andoni López have already been told that they aren’t part of the plans and it’s only a matter of time until Peru Nolaskoain leaves to spend the season on loan with Real Zaragoza.
Unai López, Mikel Vesga, and Iñigo Lekue must all prove themselves as well, while Gorka Guruzeta could be another player set for loan once he recovers from ACL surgery. Simply put, Garitano must put together the strongest possible team to compete for Europe this season and that means that everyone must step up. Three starlets already know they will have chances this year, but every day is an opportunity to convince the Mister.