The future of Unai Núñez has been the biggest topic of conversation throughout Bilbao over the past few months. With Yeray and Iñigo Martinez selected before Núñez, the protector became increasingly frustrated with his role in the team and limited minutes. Núñez regularly stated that he wanted to succeed at his boyhood club, but he also wanted to play.
Several clubs were ready to give Núñez the chance to leave Athletic and enjoy a more prominent role. West Ham offered to cover his minuscule $30 million release clause while others like Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and Arsenal were also linked with interest. Athletic have spent the whole month knowing that Núñez could choose to move elsewhere and an answer has arrived.
The Lezama merchandise has rejected offers from other teams in favor of continuing in San Mamés where he has been awarded more consistent minutes in recent weeks.
Núñez never wanted to leave the club that he’s supported since he was a child, but the lack of opportunities caused him to seriously consider an exit. However, things have changed over the last month with Gaizka Garitano regularly fielding a lineup with three center-backs with Núñez in the core of the rear line. The 23-year-old has started four of the team’s six games in January that, along with positive conversations with the manager, is said to have improved his outlook on the circumstance.
The decision to reject other offers and stay in Athletic is enormous, but there’s still work to be done. Clubs like Bayern Munich are still believed to be considering attempting to signal Núñez in the summer and Athletic are ready to enhance the defender’s contract and significantly raise his reduced release clause. The rest of the season, and potential European qualification, will heavily influence whether Unai Núñez chooses to sign a new deal or reconsider his long term potential with Athletic Club. But for now, Núñez se queda.