Gaizka Garitano “We Have The Possibility Of Improving The Squad”
Athletic began the summer with the expectation that there would be no new signings. As weeks passed by, Gaizka Garitano asked the club to reinforce the squad and two names have taken center stage. Javi Martínez and Alex Berenguer remain the top transfer targets. With the window open until 5 October there’s a chance that both could make the move to San Mamés.
“The squad is not closed,” Garitano said during Friday’s press conference. “There are players who are going to leave and we also have the possibility of improving the squad. There are one or two options.” Naturally, the manager was asked about Martínez and Berenguer but refused to talk about specific players.
“They are great players, but I won’t talk about footballers that we don’t have or aren’t ours. I won’t get into evaluating players who aren’t at Athletic. If players can come to reinforce the squad, good, and if not we will go to the death with the team that we have.”
Scoring goals has been Athletic’s biggest problem over the past few years. The recent retirement of Aritz Aduriz makes the issue even more pressing. When asked what the team need, Garitano emphasized the importance of having options in attack.
“I would like to have more attacking players, a winger that contributes goals. We are having difficulty at the wing position because we need those players to contribute more goals. Obviously, Aduriz is irreplaceable and we all have to contribute a little more. We aren’t going to find a replacement for Aduriz, but he scored a lot of goals and we have to add them together.”
Signing Martínez and Berenguer would improve the squad in many ways. At the same time there are a few starlets who have shown the potential to break into the first team this year.
“We have an idea of what we want to do. We will adjust it based on whether or not we have any additions. The younger players can say a lot with their performances, whether to continue in the first team, go on loan, or back down to Bilbao Athletic.”
Lastly, Garitano was asked about the situation with Jesús Areso. The 21-year-old was called up to train with the first team this summer, but sent back down to Bilbao Athletic after refusing a renewal offer. “It seems that he doesn’t want to continue at Athletic,” Garitano said bluntly. “So we give priority to those who do want to be here.”
Athletic’s season begins on Saturday with a trip to Los Cármenes to face Granada. The Basques hope to get off to a strong start by taking all three points. This year Gaizka Garitano is tasked with taking Athletic back to Europe, as well as winning the Copa del Rey final against Real Sociedad.