Iñaki Arechabaleta, candidate for president of Athletic Bilbao who agreed to the return of Bielsa: the “exit” of the Loco that surprised him and the first request

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Iñaki Arechabaleta, the candidate for president of Athletic Bilbao who nominated Marcelo Bielsa as technical director in case of winning the elections
Iñaki Arechabaleta, the candidate for president of Athletic Bilbao who nominated Marcelo Bielsa as technical director in case of winning the elections

Iñaki Arechabaleta Groupone of the three candidates for the presidency of the Athletic de Bilbao in the elections this Friday, boasts before Infobae of having gone to look for as technical director to Marcelo Bielsa “For more than a year, when I started the campaign, because I am convinced that he is a genius and the best for my club”.

Arechabaleta’s announcement that Bielsa will be the coach if he wins the elections caused an impact among Athletic fans, many of whom already thought that because of the Argentine’s European career, he would no longer return to the Basque lands, in search of other adventures.

Arechabaleta, a graduate in Economic and Business Sciences from the University of Deusto, was CEO of the “Vocento” media group and will compete in the elections with Ricardo Barkala (director of the Port of Bilbao since 2018 and councilor of the Bilbao city council between 2003 and 2015) and Jon Uriarte (founder of the company Ticketbis, later sold to Ebay for 165 million euros) -to replace the current president, Aitor Elizegui.

Both Barkala and Uriarte decided to summon Ernesto Valverde (former coach of Athletic and Barcelona) as a candidate for both lists, “I was surprised -Arechabaleta admits-, because I also consider that the Bielsa of 2022 is much superior to the Valverde version of 2022, because if Marcelo was already a genius before, his maturation She has been tremendous after her European journey through France and England, and her wealth of knowledge makes her unattainable”.

-How is it that you decided to propose to Bielsa to be the coach of the team in case of winning? Many fans told us when we were in Bilbao with the Argentine team, that although they love Rosario, they considered that he would not return, that what he had done was too important and that they believed that he would already be with other goals.

-We, since we decided to start the campaign a year and a half ago, have always believed that he was the perfect candidate to replace Marcelino García Toral – the previous coach, who left the club in tears and who many postulate as Luis Enrique’s successor in the Spanish selection-; Marcelo’s numbers were the best for knowledge, personality and history.

How was that first communication with him?

-It was very curious because what he told me is that he really likes Bilbao, Athletic, and the Basque people, but that he needed a month to analyze the team and it turns out that he not only watched the 45 matches of the main team, but also those of the second category and youth and told us that it seemed to him that there is material to do a very good job, but it also came out with something strange (laughs)…

Marcelo Bielsa with the Athletic Bilbao squad in 2012
Marcelo Bielsa with the Athletic Bilbao squad in 2012

-What did they come up with?

What he told us was that he knew he was working at the Marcelino club, and as long as that happened, he could not assume. Everything was channeled when the previous coach did not renew and from there, we already work very calmly.

-You made a lot of emphasis during the campaign that beyond the successes of the first team, a whole development in youth is planned.

-Exactly. In addition to all the work that Marcelo already did in the previous cycle, a decade ago, at our Lezama property, I was able to see the conference he gave recently with about fifty coaches, organized by Ajax Amsterdam, and we agreed in generating its own methodology for the youth of Athletic, which at its proposal, will be reviewed after one year, and whether he follows it or not, that will then remain in the hands of the club. I give as an example three clubs that work very well with the youth divisions: RB Leipzig, RB Salzburg and Porto. We would like to be able to work on a plan of eight to ten years and with investment in new technologies.

-This week you presented Oscar Perarnau as sports director, someone who knows this type of work.

– That’s how it is. Perarnau coincided with Bielsa at Espanyol, although in a very short time (a few days after starting at the Catalan club, Rosario was summoned by the AFA to take over the Argentine team and was replaced by Miguel Brindisi) and we are delighted with the idea.

-Bielsa asked them to settle again in the Embarcadero Hotel, the same as a decade ago, when he went out for a walk every day at 6 in the morning and ended up talking to the port workers?

-We haven’t finished arranging it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he returned to that place.

– Some reinforcement will have asked them…

-Yes, he has asked us for one or two hierarchy reinforcements to enrich the squad, but he has already told us that he likes the team a lot and that he considers it well worked.

Arechabaleta, has a degree in Economics and Business Sciences from the University of Deusto, was CEO of the “Vocento” media group
Arechabaleta, has a degree in Economics and Business Sciences from the University of Deusto, was CEO of the “Vocento” media group

– Could Antoine Griezmann, who was trained at Real Sociedad, be one of them?

– Griezmann complies with the club’s philosophy, but he is unattainable.

-Is there any chance that if you win tomorrow, Bielsa will arrive at the celebrations?

-No, there are no chances because for the World Cup, the calendar for the remainder of 2022 is very short and work must begin between July 4 and 5, so we will present it at that time.

Do you think it’s possible that with Bielsa you can achieve something like reaching the final of the Europa League and the Copa del Rey in the same season, like in 2011/12?

-Of course. This Bielsa is far superior to that one. He has a great journey, he is much wiser and I think he is in a position to carry out campaigns like those. The people of Athletic already know what he is capable of, but now, even more than on that occasion. And at the same time, we are building a project for the future.

-In the presentation by videoconference, Bielsa pronounced his full name and then said that he would only call him “Iñaki” so as not to make a mistake in his last name. At least he didn’t ask permission to go to the bathroom, like when he was introduced ten years ago…

-Hahaha… No, the important thing is that all the players who had him at Athletic put him through the roof and he had a great reception on the street.

KEEP READING:

Marcelo Bielsa admitted that he is close to directing Athletic Bilbao again: he analyzed 90 games before making a decision

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