Rafa Alkorta Downplays Athletic’s Interest In Javi Martinez
The upcoming transfer window will look vastly different compared to recent years, but not so much for Athletic. Clubs will have far less money to spend on signings because of the economic impact from the football stoppage while Athletic will continue to put faith in Lezama. However, the Lions have been linked with a couple of possible transfer targets that could make the move to San Mamés next season.
“Any player who can wear the Athletic shirt is interesting for us, but we have not gone for any player,” answered Sporting Director Rafa Alkorta on Fuera de Juego when asked about possibly signing Javi Martinez. “We have not gone anywhere to sign anyone. He’s a top player and he has a contract with Bayern Munich.”
Athletic have also been linked with Alex Berenguer on numerous occasions. “Berenguer is player who can play with us,” said Alkorta. “We have the reports on him and we’ve seen his matches with Torino. Everyone will have to adjust the economics of their clubs. It’s clear that there has to be a change in football for the next few years.”
Alkorta was also asked about the current contract situations at Athletic with Aritz Aduriz, Mikel San José, and Beñat all scheduled to see their deals expire on 30 June. Instead of retiring like originally planned, reports claim that Aduriz will extend his contract until the Copa del Rey final.
“We will see. What’s important right now are the eleven games remaining. I can’t give you any news about it because we’re looking at tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. We don’t have to look ahead to the Cup final, we have to look at our next games and those are in the league.”
In the case of San José and Beñat, Alkorta would like for both to agree to extend their contracts through the end of the season. However, there’s still no word on if the pair will be offered renewals for next year.
“I’m in regular contact with them and all we want is for their contracts to be extended past 30 June so that they can end the league with us. Our decision is that they continue with us past June so that they can continue to help us because we’re going to need them. Beñat and Mikel are impeccable because they are also very important in the dressing room.”
The biggest question of all is whether or not Unai Núñez will eventually sign a renewal or leave Athletic. Before the stoppage the defender had several suitors willing in paying his €30 million release clause, but interest seems to have dried up due to lost revenue.
“Ideally, Unai would say yes. We would love him to continue with us because he’s a great player and he’s done very well. We have already made three renewal offers. What we know is that right now he has a contract with us. We made our proposal and we are waiting for his response.”
Recent reports suggest that Núñez won’t leave the club in the upcoming transfer window because he wants to play in the Copa del Rey final which has been postponed until next year. Alkorta agrees that postponing the final until fans can attend was the best decision, but also admitted that he would have liked to play it as soon as possible.
“The decision to wait for fans was very good because the fans can’t miss the final. We are very happy with how the issue has been resolved. Personally, I would have preferred the final to be played now but I have a lot of confidence that the team is going to go for that last European place. We have a sufficient team to do it.”
Alkorta was then asked about the club’s decision to promote Nico Serrano and Nico Williams straight from Juvenil A to Bilbao Athletic next season. “They are making the leap because we believe that they are prepared for the Segunda B even though they are very young,” he responded. The duo will have an opportunity to replace Jon Morcillo who is being promoted to the first team after what Alkorta described as “a spectacular season” with Bilbao Athletic.
As always, Alkorta also put his full support behind Gaizka Garitano whom he has backed since day one. “Gaizka’s work is impeccable,” he said when asked about the manager’s performance thus far. Rafa Alkorta plans to meet with Garitano soon to finalize a contract renewal with the Mister’s current deal set to expire at the end of the season.