Bayern Munich Reportedly Rule Out January Move For Athletic Club Defender Unai Núñez
The future of Unai Núñez remains the biggest concern for Athletic. While the club has made it clear that they want to improve the 22-year-old’s contract, Núñez is unhappy with his playing time and has been unwilling to sign a renewal. Sitting behind Yeray and Iñigo Martinez has left Núñez with very limited minutes over the past year and the center-back could have offers to leave the club in the upcoming transfer window with his release clause currently set at just €30 million.
Arsenal, Everton, and other clubs have been linked with a move for Núñez over the past few months, though Bayern Munich have shown the most serious interest. With the Germans currently dealing with several injuries to their back line, Bayern reportedly contacted Núñez in late October in regards to possibly joining the club during the January transfer window.
Interestingly, Athletic’s desire to bring Javi Martinez back to San Mamés was said to be a possible facilitator for a move for Núñez. Athletic haven’t been shy about their interest in Martinez who, in turn, has openly stated that he would like to return to the club. Reports suggested that Bayern were willing to include Martinez as part of a deal for the young defender, but things have quickly changed.
Bayern Munich’s recent coaching change has seen Martinez brought back into the lineup as a center-back and, with Lucas Hernandez expected to return from injury in January, the need for a new defender has diminished. According to a report from Kerry Hau of Spox, Bayern have ruled out a move for Núñez in January but could still come back for the Lezama product in the summer.
The decision to not pursue Núñez next month will also affect Martinez’s possible return to San Mamés. Bayern are said to have no intention to sell Martinez until the end of the season when he will then be allowed to leave before entering the final year of his contract. At this point all signs still point to Martinez joining Athletic in the summer, however, the Basques have every intention of convincing Núñez to renew his deal as well.
Despite his frustration over the lack of opportunities, Núñez has stated on several occasions that he wants to succeed at his boyhood club. If Athletic manage to qualify for Europe this season, which certainly looks possible given the team’s form, it could be the answer to providing more opportunities for Núñez and finally ensure a renewal agreement.
That being said, just because Bayern will not be pursuing Núñez doesn’t mean others won’t do so. The report from Spox also claims that Borussia Dortmund have been monitoring the defender while others such as Arsenal and Everton remain possibilities. If offers arrive next month Núñez will have to make the biggest decision of his young career.
While not being able to sign Martinez in January is disappointing for Athletic, it could also be a blessing for the Basques. Qualifying for Europe is the key to convincing Unai Núñez to sign an improved contract which means that a top six finish could possibly allow Athletic to retain their prized defender and bring Javi Martinez back to San Mamés in the summer.