Alex Remiro Breaks The Silence Over His Athletic Club Exit
Alex Remiro didn’t play a single minute for Athletic last season but was one of the main topics of conversations throughout the city of Bilbao. After Kepa Arrizabalaga departed for Chelsea and Iago Herrerín suffered an injury during the preseason, Remiro was expected to become the starting goalkeeper but that never happened. A contract dispute saw the Lezama product sidelined for the entire year and left fans wondering what was going on.
As reports claimed at the time, Remiro was demanding much higher wages than Athletic were willing to meet. The goalkeeper was in the final year of his contract and wanted to be paid a similar amount to Arrizabalaga, who he would be replacing, but the club was never going to agree to such a high amount for a player who had never played a single minute in the top flight.
Former president Josu Urrutia stated that the club had made several offers to Remiro who rejected each one and refused to give the clubs his demands for a new contract. After winning the election, Aitor Elizegi was determined to try to repair the relationship but was unsuccessful. Remiro would eventually join rivals Real Sociedad when his contract expired and has finally given his side of the story in an interview with Miguel González of El Correo.
“The club told me that if I wanted to play I had to renew. I went through two horrible weeks because of the pressure I received from above. On Saturday we played against Leganés and two days prior, on Friday afternoon after training, Josu Urrutia and Amorrortu put me in a room and put a contract in front of me that I had to sign. They told me that if I didn’t do it by midnight I would sit out all season. At that moment I realized that my stage in Bilbao was over.”
Remiro admitted that it wasn’t an easy decision. Signing the contract would have guaranteed him the chance to play in the first division, but says that I didn’t feel that Athletic had confidence in him and couldn’t continue at the club in good conscience.
“I was faced with a great opportunity to play in the Primera. Signing the offer would have been the easiest thing, but I don’t do things because they are easy or not but because I feel it’s the best for me. Of course, I didn’t feel that Athletic had any confidence in me. I have always been a very sincere person and couldn’t betray myself or what I felt. I didn’t feel identified with the way Athletic acted.”
Interestingly, Remiro went on to reveal that he nearly signed a renewal while he was on loan with Huesca the prior season. Athletic had made an offer that the goalkeeper and his agent were willing to sign, but after Kepa Arrizabalaga extended his deal the club took the offer off the table.
“In January 2018 Athletic presented me with a very good offer to renew while I was with Huesca. They suspected that Kepa was going to go to Real Madrid and presented the offer to me. We replied yes and that we would sign the offer, but at that time Madrid resigned their pursuit of Kepa. Athletic renewed him and told us that the conditions of our offer were no longer valid and that we had to wait until the end of the year to see if Huesca would be promoted. Everything is summed up in the same way, I didn’t feel that Athletic trusted me.”
Remiro also stated that he didn’t feel supported by the club while away on loan. According to the 24-year-old, a scout from Athletic came to one of his games and never even spoke to him. The frustrations had been building long before last season’s drama.
“I remember that someone from the club came to see a game between Huesca and Numancia, because Markel Etxeberria and Guillermo were also on loan and played for Numancia, and they didn’t even say hello. I found out the next day from the Huesca president that someone from Athletic had been at the game. Moreover, the person of charge of following the players on loan sent me a message and, because we all know each other, I knew it was the same message sent to the others.”
The move to Real Sociedad angered many Athletic fans and Remiro understands that, but he’s happy with life in Donosti. The Lezama product compared the two clubs and shared that he feels more comfortable with La Real’s style of football.
“On a structural level they are very similar clubs. In favor of Real, there is more attractive football than at Athletic. That’s not a criticism of Bilbao, because each has his own style, but there is nothing more to see about how we are playing. Because of my characteristics and my conditions, Real’s football is much better for me.”
In the end, Remiro says he had to leave Athletic because of the way he was treated. “I needed someone to believe in me and bet on me,” he explained. “Real gave me that confidence that I didn’t receive from Athletic.” In many ways the emergence of Unai Simón has helped Athletic fans move on from Alex Remiro, though the entire ordeal and the way it was handled is something the club must reflect on and learn from.