There is no shortage of talent coming through Lezama. For the second straight summer Athletic Club have not signed a single new player but did promote two promising youth prospects in Unai Nuñez and Iñigo Córdoba. Both have already made their first team debuts and looked very good alongside their teammates; meanwhile others have already taken notice. On Friday Spain announced the call-ups for international duty which, of course, included Kepa Arrizabalaga. However, there were two new names on the U21 team list.
Spain U21 coach Albert Celades called up Bilbao Athletic keeper Unai Simón and the newly promoted Unai Nuñez who made his debut on Sunday in Athletic’s scoreless draw against Getafe. Both will compete over the international break, although their roles in the team are yet to be determined. It will be their first time at this level of international football.
For Simón it seemed like only a matter of time before he would be called up. He has played well for Spain’s U19 side but had a lot of competition in front of him for the U21 team. Now that Kepa Arrizabalaga and Alex Remiro can no longer play for Celades due to age, Simón will finally get his chance to shine and show what he can do. Meanwhile, Nuñez’s inclusion was a slight surprise. The defender has only played in one game for Athletic, looking very comfortable against Primera competition, which must have been enough to convince Celades to include him in the team.
Both 20 year olds are seen as future stars at the San Mamés and it is encouraging to see them get recognized on an international level. Although Córdoba was not called up, he did put in a fine performance on Thursday against Panathinaikos in Europa League play so it may only be a matter of time before he is knocking on the U21 door as well. It is very clear that Lezama is continuing to produce very talented players for Athletic Club who are capable of succeeding in the first team. In the past year six youth players have made their debuts, while five others participated in the preseason, including Simón. The future is immensely bight in Bilbao and Athletic is committed to keeping Lezama as the pillar on which the entire club stands.