Jon Ander Serantes “It’s Difficult To Leave Athletic And Find A Better Team Anywhere Else”
Iago Herrerín’s desire to leave Athletic at the end of the season has brought many questions over who could possible replace the veteran goalkeeper. With Unai Simón entrenched as the starter the club will need to find a backup who can also start Cup games and potentially in Europe as well. Understandably, Athletic want to sign a player with experience to sit behind the 22-year-old.
So far former Lezama standouts Aitor Fernandéz and Jon Ander Serantes have emerged as the top options to replace Herrerín. Fernandéz has been one of the best goalkeepers in La Liga this season, though his €30 million release clause poses a problem. Serantes, on the other hand, is currently playing in Japan and would be a much more reasonable option.
Unlike in Spain, football teams have still been allowed to train behind closed doors in Japan. Games aren’t being played, but the players are still able to have some normalcy at the moment. Speaking with Javier Beltrán of AS, Serantes admitted that he’s enjoying life in Japan and that the move to Asia was needed after struggling at Leganés.
“I needed to leave Leganés and have a clean slate. In the end, football is about stages and it was clear that for me the stage at Leganés was over because I was not well. There were many things in between and my personal situation wasn’t the best. I decided to leave and I think it was the right decision because I’ve been successful here. I’m playing and I feel important and happy. Because of myself I lost a lot of time. Now I take much better care of myself. Food, weight, and every detail counts a lot.”
Like many others, including Aitor Fernandéz, Serantes didn’t have a path to the first team despite being a top youth player. Lezama continues to be one of football’s best academies for goalkeepers and that means there are always starlets ready to take the next step.
“It’s true that many Basque goalkeepers have to leave. They go out and always find important roles in other teams. Iraizoz was the goalkeeper for a long time and then Kepa came. Kepa ended up leaving but it’s being shown that nobody is essential and that position is well covered by Lezama and the lower levels.”
Unai Simón joined Lezama in 2011 when Serantes was promoted to Bilbao Athletic. Although the two were separated by age, the Avispa Fukuoka goalkeeper says he immediately saw talent in Simón.
“I already knew Unai. He came from below me and was pushing hard. He was training with first team dynamics for a long time and that helps. Unai has been prepared and has taken the opportunity with character and personality that hasn’t surprised anyone. The truth is that he’s doing very well and he deserves it.”
When asked about the possibility of returning to Athletic, Serantes admitted that he doesn’t understand why Herrerín wants to leave the club. “I don’t know,” he said. “I understand that we all want to play, although when you are at Athletic you’re not just anywhere. I don’t know what personal goals he has and what Athletic will want to do. It’s difficult to leave Athletic and find a better team anywhere else.”
Serantes is still under contract through December and says he’s unsure about what will happen. If Athletic do want to sign the 30-year-old the belief is that the operation wouldn’t be very expensive.
“The league started in February and I have a contract until December. I have no idea what will happen. I used to worry a lot about what was going to happen in the future, but not anymore. The only thing I’m thinking about is for the current situation to pass with the least possible damage. Football, in the end, is secondary.”
Even though he’s in Japan, Serantes keep a close eye on Athletic. “The Cup has been exciting, especially the round where the two greats have fallen,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the final with great desire and I wish I could be there myself to have a chance of seeing it live. I would like to go to the final.” Jon Ander Serantes continues to support Athletic and could possibly wear the Zurigorri shirt again next season.