Unai Simón Expected To Begin The Season As Athletic Club’s Starting Goalkeeper
The ongoing goalkeeper battle at Athletic has been one of the major talking points surrounding the club for nearly a year. Due to several unforeseen circumstances, Unai Simón began last season as the starter and put in a handful of terrific performances before Iago Herrerín returned from injury and was inserted back into the lineup. As the season progressed, Herrerín committed a few mistakes that had fans calling for Simón once again.
Gaizka Garitano continued to put his faith in Herrerín’s experience as the team fended off relegation, though there was always a sense that Simón had proven to be the better player and deserved more minutes. When the preseason began last month, the Mister made it clear that he would let the pair compete for the starting role and it finally appears as though he’s made a decision.
Wednesday’s friendly against Roma was essentially a tune-up game for Athletic before their season opener against Barcelona next weekend. Garitano took the opportunity to field what is expected to be his starting lineup which included Simón. The 22-year-old played the entire game as Herrerín watched from the bench and will likely get his minutes on Thursday in the match against Mirandés.
Anything can happen between now and the Barcelona game, but Wednesday’s trip to Italy suggests that Unai Simón has won the starting role. The young goalkeeper has proven that he can play at the highest level and it will be up to him to continue improving and not give Garitano a reason to reconsider. Last year he dazzled in a 1-1 draw against Barcelona and should have the chance to do so again next weekend.