Athletic Starlets Scouted By English Clubs During U23 Win Over Liverpool
Athletic failed to advance past the group stage of the Premier League International Cup for the third straight year but competing in the U23 tournament has been a great experience for the young players. The Kumeak defeated Liverpool 2-1 on Wednesday in the final match of the group stage and while it may have been a wonderful opportunity for the team, it also gave scouts the chance to watch a number of starlets.
According to a report from Javier Ortiz De Lazcano of El Correo, a number of scouts were in attendance to watch Athletic players. Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, and other clubs all had representatives at the game where four starlets were monitored very closely.
The scouts are said to have given special attention to Unai Vencedor, Dani Vivian, Jesús Areso, and Iñigo Baqué. While Vencedor only featured as a substitute, the other three started the game and Baqué scored both goals to lead Athletic to victory.
Of the four, Vencedor is the most exciting prospect and has attracted interest from English clubs in the past. However, the midfielder rejected offers in favor of signing a new deal with Athletic in December of 2018 which runs through 2023 and contains a €40 million release clause. Vencedor is on the cusp of making his debut and is expected to be promoted to the first team this summer.
Likewise, Dani Vivian recently signed a new contract as well. The defender penned an extension in March of last year that runs through 2021 and contains a €30 million release clause. Vivian spent the preseason training with the first team and is currently the fourth-choice center-back though he has yet to make his debut, in part because of a back injury that sidelined him for two months.
Jesús Areso is also close to reaching the first team. The right-back was called up for a Copa del Rey match earlier this season and could make his debut in the months ahead. Areso is also expected to spend the upcoming summer under the orders of Gaizka Garitano. Meanwhile, Iñigo Baqué has had quite an interesting year. Due to a mass of injuries earlier in the campaign, the defensive midfielder was moved to striker where he has played well and has become a key contributor for Bilbao Athletic.
Attracting the attention of other European clubs is an honor for Lezama as Athletic continues to produce top players. That being said, Athletic is confident that these starlets and others will continue at the club and could one day develop into key players at San Mamés.