Unai Núñez Expected To Continue At Athletic Club Next Season
Questions over the future of Unai Núñez have dominated the headlines in Bilbao for well over a year. The Lezama product is on his way to becoming a top center-back in world football and others club have taken notice. In the buildup to the January transfer window Bayern Munich were in pursuit of the 23-year-old, but there will be even more suitors at the end of the season.
After seeing their first two contract renewal offers rejected, Athletic recently submitted a third and are waiting for an answer. Núñez had grown frustrated over a lack of minutes since last season but the situation has improved since Gaizka Garitano started fielding a formation with three defenders.
Apart from wanting guaranteed playing time Núñez is also said to be asking for wages similar to Yeray and Iñigo Martinez. Athletic are confident that their last offer is substantial enough to convince the defender to sign. Meanwhile, interest from other clubs has grown.
Over the past few months Arsenal have joined the list of clubs monitoring Núñez which also includes the likes of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, West Ham, and Inter Milan. However, due to the football stoppage Núñez has had no contact with any other club and the financial loss that will follow the current health crisis could force clubs to look for less expensive options.
For instance, earlier this month reports claimed that Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta had identified Núñez as his top target to strengthen the defense. Since then Arsenal have turned their attention to Axel Disasi from Rems who would be available for just €15 million as opposed to Núñez’s €30 million release clause.
While Núñez’s clause is relatively low, especially considering his age and potential, clubs are expected to spend far less in the next transfer window due to revenue loss. Interest from other clubs has cooled in recent weeks, but so has the starlet’s desire to leave his boyhood club.
Núñez has always dreamed of playing for Athletic and still wants to succeed at San Mamés. The lack of minutes are the only reason why he’s entertained the idea of leaving the club but according to a report from Javier Beltrán of AS, Núñez “will continue at Athletic barring any unexpected changes.”
The defender is said to be encouraged by more playing time since January and the likelihood that Athletic will qualify for Europe which will come with even more minutes. Just as important, the Copa del Rey final might not take place until next season and Núñez is eager to play in the historic match with a chance to lift a trophy with the club. “My dream is to win a title with Athletic,” he explained in an interview last month.
With clubs showing less interest and Núñez having a more positive outlook on his situation, the defender is expected to stay at Athletic through next season. Whether or not he will sign an improved contract remains to be seen. Qualifying for Europe continues to be the biggest key to convincing Unai Núñez to commit his future to Athletic Club.