“I already knew where I was coming to. We knew that we were coming to Athletic, that its main source is the youth team”, said Marcelino García Toral. “This coaching staff has adapted to this philosophy and has learned how to understand it. We have made decisions to enhance it. ” The words of the Asturian coach are finding a faithful reflection on the pitch. You just have to put the magnifying glass on the last Athletic Club match before the break.
Of the starting eleven that beat Celta in Balaídos (0-1), the only footballers who were over 30 years old were Iñigo Martínez, Balenziaga and Dani García. Marcelino took advantage of the last commitments of last season to rejuvenate the squad, giving prominence to several homegrown players. As a result, the start of the 2021/22 campaign has allowed the settlement of young people such as Agirrezabala (20 years old), Vivian (22), Vencedor (20), Sancet (21), Zarraga (22) and Nico Williams (19).
In relation to this dynamic, the Twitter account ‘Adurizpedia’ presented a compelling fact: Athletic has twelve consecutive league games with rosters below 27 years on average. To find a precedent you have to go back to the 2013/14 season, with Ernesto Valverde on the bench. On the other hand, in the 2018/19 season those 27 years were exceeded on average in 35 of the 38 league commitments.
“If we have young people joining the first team, it is because we believe in those footballers so that in the future they will establish themselves as important players in this club,” said Marcelino. In addition, the great work of the entity with young players has been recognized in the last call-up of the senior Spanish team (there is Unai Simón) and the U-21 (Agirrezabala, Sancet, Vencedor and Nico Williams have been called).