Valverde back for third spell as Athletic Club return to training

Madrid, July 4 (IANS): Ernesto Valverde began his third term in charge of Athletic Club Bilbao when the club returned to pre-season training on Monday with the task of qualifying for Europe for the first time since leaving in 2017.

Valverde returns after leading FC Barcelona to two league titles in 2018 and 2019 and the 2018 Copa del Rey, but was sacked after Barca (then top of La Liga) lost to Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of the Spanish Supercup in January 2020. , and has not worked since.

The 58-year-old former player agreed to return to Athletic if either Jon Uriarte or Ricardo Barkala won the club’s recent vote for the presidency on March 24 and signed a one-year deal following Uriarte’s decisive victory at the poll of club members.

He replaces Marcelino Garcia Toral, who narrowly missed leading Athletic to a place in Europe last season with an eighth-place finish and then ended his 18-month tenure as his contract expired at the end of June.

Valverde will reunite with several players from his previous four-year spell in which he led the club to a place in Europe each season. Iker Muniain, Oscar de Marcos, Mikel Balenziaga, Inaki Williams, Raul Garcia and Mikel Vesga are all survivors of his last first team, Xinhua reports.

Athletics confirmed on Sunday that striker Gorka Guruzeta had returned to the club on a two-year contract after impressing in the second tier of La Liga SmartBank by scoring 13 goals for relegated Amorebieta, while three players from the B team , Luis Bilbao, Malcolm and Benat Gerenobarrena will take part in pre-season training with the first team and defender Imanol Garcia de Albeniz will also get his chance after an impressive loan spell with second division side Mirandes.

Inigo Vicente, who also spent last season at Mirandes, and Inigo Cordoba, who was loaned out to Dutch side Go Ahead Eagles, have both been told they can look for a new club as they are not entering in Valverde’s plans for the next one. season as he seeks to downsize the squad to 24 or 25 players.

The Basque side start the 2022-23 campaign with home games against Mallorca and Valencia with Europe as their main focus for the season.

Comments are closed.