Vencedor, Vivian, Morcillo, Areso, and Zarraga Called Up For Preseason Training With The First Team

Dani Vivian and Unai Vencedor will challenge for first team minutes (AC)

In just two weeks the Athletic first team will report back to Lezama to begin preseason training. After a disappointing end to the previous campaign, Gaizka Garitano’s side will be hoping to seriously challenge for European qualification in the upcoming season and will need to make improvements to contend for a top seven finish.

The club has already ruled out the possibility of making any transfer signings this summer due to limited funds mainly caused by the pandemic. Instead, Athletic will trust in Lezama to provide reinforcements to make the squad better.

On Tuesday Athletic officially announced that five players from Bilbao Athletic would spend the preseason training with the first team. Unai Vencedor, Dani Vivian, Jon Morcillo, Jesús Areso, and Oier Zarraga will all have the opportunity to fight for a place in the squad. Oihan Sancet will do so as well, but has already been fully promoted to the first team.

Of all the starlets, Vencedor stands the best chance to lock down a first team role and may already be assured of one. Vencedor made his debut last season and has impressed in two years with Bilbao Athletic. With Mikel San José and Beñat having left the club, Athletic will need more players in midfield and the 19-year-old is ready to take the next step in his career.

Vivian actually trained with the first team last summer and was named the fourth center-back in the squad. However, injuries and limited minutes resulted in Vivian never making his debut and spending the entire year with Bilbao Athletic. This time Vivian will be determined to fight for a permanent role, although if Unai Núñez stays at the club it’s unlikely that Vivian will have chances and would likely be sent out on loan.

Jon Morcillo and Oier Zarraga were incredible for Bilbao Athletic last season (AC)

Morcillo is coming off of a big season with Bilbao Athletic where he led the team with 10 goals. As a result, the 21-year-old was rewarded with a first team contract. Morcillo will face strong competition for a place in the squad, but even if he’s unable to convince the manager he will surely have options to spend the year on loan in the Second Division.

For the past three years Areso has gone from less to more, establishing himself as one of the top right-backs in all of the Segunda B and showing signs that he could soon become a first team player. Unfortunately, with Ander Capa, Óscar De Marcos, and Iñigo Lekue all vying for minutes Areso is expected to go out on loan unless he’s able to overtake someone else in the squad.

Zarraga was the revelation for Bilbao Athletic last season. The versatile midfielder exploded in his first season under Joseba Etxeberria, scoring five goals and providing as many assists. Zarraga’s excellent performances have earned him an opportunity to spend the preseason with the first team before likely spending another year with Bilbao Athletic to continue his development.

Even though some starlets won’t be in the squad next season, just being able to train with the first team is a great opportunity to learn. All five players have the projection to one day take the field at San Mamés and this summer will be an important step towards realizing that dream.

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