It has been a long 24 months for Iker Undabarrena. Just when the midfielder was closer than ever to joining the first team, he suffered a torn ACL that put a sudden halt on his development and growth. That injury saw Mikel Vesga promoted instead, while Undabarrena worked hard to return last season where he played a major role under Kuko Ziganda at Bilbao Athletic. This summer it looked like the 22-year-old was going to leave on loan to the Segunda, but a move never materialized. Instead, he stayed with the reserve team where he has been an integral part of the early success under manager Gaizka Garitano.
Sadly, another major injury has struck the 22-year-old. On Tuesday, Athletic Club officially announced that Iker Undabarrena had suffered a right knee sprain during training and will undergo tests to find out the severity. On Wednesday the worst fears were confirmed when the club confirmed that he had suffered another torn ACL, this time in his other knee.
Undabarrena will definitely miss several months of action now and will likely be ruled out for the rest of the season. Torn ACLs normally take anywhere from 8-10 months to recover from, which is just another disappointing setback for such a talented young player. Undabarrena has been one of the focal points for Bilbao Athletic this season, starting in all four games so far. His control and experience in the middle of the field has been invaluable and the team will not find it easy to replace his production. With his absence being felt for the rest of the campaign it will be up to his teammates to step up in a big way.
Bilbao Athletic currently sit seventh in the league table and are off to a wonderful start. Garitano’s team have been extremely dangerous in attack, led by the likes of Gorka Guruzeta, Iñigo Muñoz, and Asier Benito. The Cachorros have also been playing at a high level defensively with Óscar Gil, Andoni Lopez, and Jon Sillero leading the way. Still, it has been Undabarrena’s quality and leadership that has tied it all together and will now have to be replaced. At the end of the day, the most important thing is the player’s health and recovery. We want to wish all the love and strength in the world to Iker Undabarrena during this very difficult time.