Athletic Club icon Rafa Alkorta has been highly critical of Los Leones following decisions to get rid of a number of coaches from their famed Lezama academy.
Relying on it to produce their team of homegrown players, Athletic prize the Lezama academy above all else, with decisions taken very seriously. However the current Athletic regime under President Jon Uriarte and Sporting Director Mikel Gonzalez have come into conflict with Alkorta over their decision to replace a number of coaches in the youth teams.
“Whomever made a negative report about him (Andoni Lakabeg) is a scoundrel. They are shameless, that’s what they are,” Alkorta said, as noted by Relevo.
Following those statements, Athletic put out one of their own stating that they were ‘deeply disappointed and sad’ about his statements, and asked that he express his opinion with respect. Alkorta was sporting director himself before Gonzalez, for three years, while he spent 11 years there as a player too. He doubled down on his statements thereafter.
“I repeat, whomever made a negative report about ‘Laka’ is shameless and the one who endorsed it is also shameless… What could he have said that they were not ashamed, well yes, it is the same as someone shameless, who has no shame. I’m talking about a situation that has hurt me. That then the club releases a statement against me to defend its people, well, very good. I have nothing more to say, it’s all been said.”
Alkorta went on to explain that it was important for Lezama to have coaches who had been through the system itself, with Athletic dismissing many former players from their roles.
“I have no idea and that’s why I don’t understand it. The people who have been in the Lezama residence, whether they have made it to the first team or not, which has nothing to do with it, have the ability to transmit to the kids what the process is that is followed to reach the Athletic first team. And that’s it. The only ones, as far as I know, who are still there are ‘Gurpe’ (Gurpegui) who is the coach of Bilbao Athletic and little else.”
Athletic have been going through a tricky few years under Marcelino Garcia Toral and then Ernesto Valverde. Constantly lacking a striker, no doubt significant efforts are being made to find a goalscorer.