De Marcos, Balenziaga, And Vesga Must Earn Renewals In Upcoming Season
Over the past two years a number of historically great players have left Athletic. Last season it was Markel Susaeta, Ander Iturraspe, and Mikel Rico who said goodbye and this summer Mikel San José and Beñat have departed as well, while Aritz Aduriz recently announced his retirement. A youth movement is underway at San Mamés and the upcoming campaign will determine the futures of a few current players.
A total of five players will go into next season in the final year of their contracts – Raúl García, Óscar De Marcos, Mikel Balenziaga, Mikel Vesga, and Gaizka Larrazabal. Garcia’s situation is clear as the 33-year-old is close to signing a new deal and will continue to lead the attack moving forward.
For De Marcos, Balenziaga, and Vesga a renewal will have to be earned. According to sources close to the club, De Marcos and Balenziaga have already been told that their futures will be handled like San José and Beñat last season. The club will take as much time as needed to analyze their performances and determine whether or not to offer extensions.
De Marcos is in a good position to earn a new deal. When healthy, the versatile veteran has been a key player for Gaizka Garitano and played at a high level. On the other hand, Balenziaga has really only featured when Yuri Berchiche has been unavailable. Depending on the development of other left-backs like Imanol García de Albéniz and Andoni López, Balenziaga’s time in Bilbao could very well be coming to an end.
Vesga’s situation is different as is that of Larrazabal. So far the club hasn’t given any indication whether or not Vesga will be offered a renewal even though he finished last season as a consistent player in Garitano’s team. With younger midfielders like Unai Vencedor and Peru Nolaskoain ready to challenge for minutes, Vesga will likely have to prove that he deserves a new deal as well.
After being promoted to the first team last summer, Larrazabal didn’t feature nearly as much as he had hoped. Without European football again this season the 22-year-old is expected to be sent out on loan to have regular minutes. If so, Larrazabal will almost certainly sign a renewal before leaving as he has the potential to become an important player at San Mamés.
Looking ahead, the club is already working on a renewal for Unai Simón. The goalkeeper is coming off of an impressive season where he stood out as one of the best players in La Liga and both sides hope to have a new deal in place in the coming weeks. Iñigo Córdoba, Unai López, Kenan Kodro, Dani García, Ander Capa, and Yuri Berchiche will be the next group of players in line for possible renewals with their contracts set to expire in June of 2022.