Athletic Club Unveil New Player Numbers For 2020/2021 Season
The new La Liga season has finally arrived. Athletic kick off the campaign in just a few days with a trip to Granada with the hope of taking all three points to start the year. Ahead of the match, the club unveiled the player numbers for the upcoming season which came with a few surprises.
Mikel Vesga took the 6 shirt with Ibai Gómez getting the 7. As the new backup goalkeeper, Jokin Ezkieta inherited Iago Herrerín’s 13 shirt. Herrerín has yet to leave the club but was assigned 25 until his departure. Oihan Sancet changed to the 16 shirt left by Vesga, Kenan Kodro took Gómez’s 19, and Peru Nolaskoain received 23 vacated by Kodro. Most notably, Asier Villalibre will wear the 20 shirt following the retirement of Aritz Aduriz.
Athletic rarely give first team numbers (1-25) to players entering their first year with the senior squad. As a result Iñigo Vicente (26), Unai Vencedor (27), Oier Zarraga (28), and Jon Morcillo (32) were given secondary numbers. For now, the plan is for Vencedor and Zarraga to split time between the first team and Bilbao Athletic. Jon Morcillo seems to have earned his place at San Mamés with an impressive preseason, but the future of Vicente remains undecided following a poor summer.
Much has been made of the fact that Vicente wasn’t given a first team number. By rule he is still technically a U23 player which allows him to wear a non-first team number, though he isn’t registered as a first team player. Vicente can instead be registered with Bilbao Athletic and alternate between the two squads. Doing so also helps the first team salary scale. The club has until 5 October to make changes so Vicente’s number could be altered or perhaps he may leave on loan for another year.
At this point the only first team number available is 2, though 25 will become vacant once Herrerín leaves. Rumors suggest that Gaizka Larrazabal could also be on the way out which would make 12 free as well. Athletic continue to pursue Javi Martínez and Alex Berenguer as transfer targets and would have to assign them first team numbers were they to join the club this summer.