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[FM23] Athletic Club Bilbao - We will Basque in the Glory


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[FM23] Athletic Club Bilbao - We will Basque in the Glory

Football was introduced to Bilbao with a distinctively British connection, that of British workers (miners and shipyard workers) in Spain and Basque students returning from studying in Britain. The Bilbao Football Club was formed. Juan Astroquia from the educated classes formed the Athletic Club (English spelling) to play against the British workers. In the very early 1900's, Bilbao FC and Athletic Club combined to form Club Bizcaya and won the Copa de la Coronación against Barcelona. In 1903, Bilbao FC were absorbed by Athletic Club one and for all with 1898 declared as the clubs foundation date.

The club us widely known in the modern era for its cantera policy of brining young Basques players through the ranks along with recruiting players from other Basque clubs. The official policy is to only sign players native to or trained in the greater Basque Country (Biscay, Alava, Navarre and Gipuzkoa in Spain, Labourd, Lower Navarre and Soule in France). Since 1912 Athletic Club has played exclusively with players meeting its Basque criteria. 


Athletic Club are one of the founding clubs (5 of the 10 were from Basque region) of La Liga in 1928 and would win their first title under English manager Fred Pentland in 1930, doing a double-double league and cup wins in 1930 and 1931. The last la Liga title win was in 1984 which is the longest period without a title, mainly down to Barcelona and Real Madrid's dominance. 

Winning the first 2 Copa de Rey and lifting the trophy 23 times (the 1902 was the Copa de la Coronación) and are the second most successful team behind Barcelona. Once more, 1984 was the last time winning the competition and a loss in 2021 to bitter rivals Real Sociedad still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

In Europe, there was been no silverware but 2 trips to the UEFA Europa League Finals, in 1977 Atheltic Club would lose on the away goals rule after a 0-1, 2-1 results left it at 2-2. in 2012 Atletico Madrid would win 0-3 to take the victory and leave Athletic Club still waiting for European glory.


Club Details

With a new and modern 53,000 seater San Mamés Stadium, the club boasts excellent facilities which are the corner-stone for the Basque only policy. To build the best players from the area, you need to have the best facilities available. With a starting balance of £27,724,120 and £21,553,260 made for transfers, the club can spend if required. The Wage bill is high at £1,066,242 out of an available £1,092,437 per week.


So we tick all the main boxes for a long term save. Great backstory/history, unique player recruitment model and a competitive league. Add to that some unfinished business in Europe to finally bring some silverware, Athletic Club will always be a challenge on Football Manager. 

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2022/23 Athletic Club Squad



In the first squad we have a clear number 1 in Spanish National Team Keeper, Unai Simon. At just 25 he could spend the next 10 seasons with the club and will take someone special to remove him from the position. His stats across the board are great and there may not be many keepers in the world much better right now. There are no signs he wants to move on and has a 3 year deal on nice wages. Julen Agirrezabala is the back up and at 21 years old, will likely improve to a level just below Simon. With a small wage and a long term contract until 2025, a solid #2 for us.


We have 7 keepers in the academy at the minute and the greatest prospects seems to be Alex Padilla and Aimar Penalver. Both are 18 years old and have the potential to be La Liga players in the future. Both see their contract's run out a the end of this season so will need to sign new deals in the coming months. Iruarrizaga is on the transfer list and at 23 has not made the development needed, which may be the same for the others. 


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2022/23 Athletic Club Squad



This group has 5 players in their 30's and 2 of them on huge wages in Inigo Martinez and Yuri. In Inigo Martinez his contract runs out at the end of the season so we have a decision to make to if we extend or look to cash in whilst we can, but he is currently the highest rated player and should have 3 or 4 more good years left. On the left side we have Mikel Balenziaga and Yuri, the former comes in on a much cheaper wage, but his contract is also out shortly and is 34 years of age. We may need to look at the transfer market shortly for here. On the right hand side we have Ander Capa and Inigo Lekue who are rated very similar at this point. They both have low wages but both are starting to hit early 30's and we need to start developing the next players for the first team.

We only have 3 players at center back which is a worry but Dani Vivian is just 23 years old and has the most upside for development and is on a long term contract. He has great pace and no major weakness and will be a key cog in the machine for the next 5 to 10 years. Yeray is also on a long term deal and will be fighting with Inigo Martinez for playing time. 

We have 5 players out on loan with the pick of the bunch being Unai Nunez who may get the chance to jump into the team next year, especially if we lose a couple of high earners. Benat Prados has the most potential but will need another few season's to be ready for La Liga football. All have at least 2 years on their contracts so no need to worry just yet. Imanol may be a key player for next year as a left sided defender, his loan spell at Eibar will be watched with interest.


We have 26 players in the academy with these showing the most potential. It is far to early to see who may develop into first team players but we will keep the top 3 at least for development and there may be space for others to make sure we can put competitive teams out at all levels. No superstars here it seems currently.


Edited by theBlackPrince
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2022/23 Athletic Club Squad

Central Midfielders


A strong group lead by club legend Iker Muniain who can play anywhere across the middle and is the first name on the team-sheet. Interestingly Ander Herrera is back on loan from PSG and has a future buy option for just £220,000. At 33 and on a large wage, will he be one to keep or one to cancel the loan and reduce the wage bill and look to give playing time to a younger player? He may still have a role with the team so we shall wait to find out.

Unai Vencedor is the star of the future but has competition from Dani Garci and Mikel Vesga for playing time currently. Both are good core players who have years left in the team and do not carry huge wages. We may see one of them leave the team in the near future unless we can keep everyone happy. Oihan Sancet is another young player who is pushing for playing time and could be the long term central partner for Vencedor, which is a terrific place to be with them both still not even close to 25 years old. The future is very bright here


We have lots of young players with great potential in these positions with many of them still only 17 or 18 years old. With 5 players with great potential we will focus on their development to see who we can bring through the ranks over the next 3 or 4 years. With solid options ahead of them, we may see these players out on loan for several years before they can step up. Aimar Vicandi is already commanding a higher wage and is out on loan with Eldense.


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2022/23 Athletic Club Squad

Wide Midfielders


A group lead by the ultra talented Inaki Williams who also swallows up nearly 20% of the total wage bill.  He has over 300 appearances with the club and a long term deal until 2028 and is a star to build the team around. He can play anywhere but may attract attention from Europe's top clubs. His brother, Nico Williams may just be the best prospect in the game and at just 20, is one we need to make sure we increase that release fee and try to add several more years to the deal. These two will be hard to dislodge from the squad and could lead the lines for years to come.

Alex Berenguer makes an interesting option on the left as he can play anywhere along that side and will offer valuable cover. Nico Serrano is another player for the future to watch, on loan at Mirandes in the league below. 


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2022/23 Athletic Club Squad



Perhaps the weakest area of the team with 36 year old Raul Garcia the best option. He is in the final year of his £140,000 per week deal and may be the last deal he gets. Asier Villalibre is the second option and will likely come in off the bench. A low wage but an expiring contract, he will be worth securing for several more years and other options are limited at this stage.


We have several youngsters who may, or may not reach the grade, but they are all several years from the first team. Will will look to secure their contracts and look to develop but in the short to medium term, we may need to look to the transfer market for a proven goal scorer.

Edited by theBlackPrince
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Pre-Season 2022/23

It was a quiet pre-season with no deals in the transfer market and most players who could be out on loan already. It doesn't mean we were not busy as the scouts have been tasked to look at every Basque player who could play for us either now or in the future. We were looking at strikers mainly at this point. This left contract talks with a few key players in Nico Williams and Dani Vivian which included much higher minimum release clauses. 


Onto the pitch we saw wins in all our games apart from a 3-3 draw against Olympiakos when 22 players saw action. Not one clean sheet may be the only negative to come from the games but scoring up the other end seems to be the easier task. Tactics would usually look like a 4-3-3 Wide, but also looking at a 4-4-2 just to change it up.


Edited by theBlackPrince
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August 2022

Game 1 - Girona

We opened the season with a drubbing of Girona with 4 goals in the first half and a hat-trick from Inaki Williams. Iker Muniain had a game high 7 key passes and 2 of the assist cam from down the left hand side. We controlled the game and really limited their attempts on target but despite scoring 5 goals, our shots on target could be improved. POM - Inaki Williams

  Game 2 - Atletico Madrid

A shock victory against a team who will be fighting for a top 3 spot at the end of the season. Raul Garcia would add to his tally from last week to score a hat-trick to now sit at 5 goals on the season despite his advancing years of 36. It would be Ander Herrera pulling the strings in midfield, his 4 key passes set up 3 clear chances and his second assist of the season. Iker Muniain would chip in with 2 more assists as he controlled the left side of the pitch all game. 2 games, 10 goals, 0 conceded, what a start to the season. POM - Raul Garcia

Game 3 - Espanyol

Another game, another hat-trick, a second of the season for Inaki Williams who in truth, could have had 6. Unai Vencedor popped up with a dominant performance and 2 assists and it was a first goal of the season for Alex Berenguer, cutting in from the right to slot home nicely. Espanyol didn't offer much in front of goal and it turned into a very one sided game. POM - Inaki Williams

Game 4 - Real Madrid

It would be a tense game with little quality in-front of goal the whole game and the difference in the end was a bad mix-up which gifted the ball to Marco Asensio to slot into the empty net. A first loss, a first goal conceded and the first without scoring on the season. 


Graphics issues, need to update later....

Edited by theBlackPrince
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