Athletic In Talks With Espanyol Over The Future Of Ibai Gómez
Espanyol want Ibai Gómez. At the express request of manager Abelardo, who coached Gómez at Alavés, the Catalan club is willing to do whatever it takes to sign the winger this month to strengthen the team. Espanyol’s relegation battle has forced the club to take drastic measures and Gómez has quickly become the top transfer target. While a move is unlikely, Athletic haven’t ruled it out at this point.
Last week Francisco Rufete, the Espanyol Sporting Director, made contact with Athletic with a request to sign Gómez. A loan with an option to buy at the end of the season was proposed at the time, though Rufete was clear that Espanyol are open to other options in hopes of reaching an agreement. Abelardo has since met with Rafa Alkorta, per Javier Ortiz De Lazcano of El Correo, where the two discussed the future of Gómez.
Simply put, the future of Ibai Gómez is uncertain. It’s been just over one year since the winger made his dream return to Athletic but he hasn’t had the prominence that was expected. Gómez has been unable to earn a regular starting role and has admitted that he isn’t satisfied with his minutes. However, he’s also stated that he’s determined to prove himself to the manager.
Gaizka Garitano and Gómez have spoken about the player’s situation and El Correo have reported that the 30-year-old isn’t opposed to joining Espanyol if he isn’t part of the plans at Athletic. That being said, Garitano made it clear in a recent press conference that no one will be leaving the club this month. The Mister will have the final say.
For now, an exit seems unlikely for Gómez who has played well in recent matches and could have more opportunities moving forward with Iñigo Córdoba seemingly sidelined by the manager. In order for an agreement to take place Garitano would first have to approve the move and Athletic would need to bring in enough profit to justify the €3 million that the club paid to sign Gómez from Alavés this time last year.
The fact that Athletic didn’t outright refuse the approach from Espanyol shows the club is at least somewhat open to the idea of allowing Gómez to leave. Considering the winger’s age and the plethora of young players like Iñigo Vicente who are on the cusp of first team football, a move is possible. In the end, Ibai Gómez is still under contract through 2022 and his deal doesn’t contain a release. Gaizka Garitano and Athletic will be the ones to make the final decision.