Ernesto Valverde admits he was “surprised” by reports that Athletic Bilbao were close to signing Real Sociedad starlet Mikel Oyarzabal.
Athletic were reportedly ready to pay Oyarzabal’s €40m release clause until he signed a new contract with La Real on Friday, but Valverde made it clear his side were never interested in the teenage attacker, comparing the story to Aymeric Laporte’s said move to Manchester City.
“[The Oyarzabal story] is surprising. You should ask the journalist,” the Coach said at a Press conference ahead of Sunday’s trip to Sporting Gijon in La Liga’s opening weekend.
“One thing is published by the press and the other is reality. These are journalistic issues more than anything else.
“They also said that [Manchester City] signed Aymeric [Laporte], but he’s still with us.
“[Oyarzabal’s] a good player, but so are other players of Real Sociedad.
“We're always willing to be the best team we possibly can, but it’s not a case of emptying an ATM and putting the money on the table.
“We know [stories like Oyarzabal] too well, each year it’s the same. [Cesar] Azpilicueta, [Nacho[ Monreal … in other years it was Raul Garcia, who’s now with us.
“History says El Molinon has been kind to us [on Athletic last losing there in 1991], and hopefully this history continues, but looking at statistics won’t help us.
“[Sporting] are a compact team, who try to be neat and play very quickly.
“They have very good spirit and are little like us in that respect. They have a positive impulse to attack and will try to stop us from reaching their box.
“[Fernando Amorebieta] is a player who has experience and we know well. He’s an aggressive player, but so are we.
“Real Madrid drew with them [on last season’s opening day] and [Sporting] had a good game.
“They were solid, defensively sound and strong … we expect to face a motivated team, but we’ll be super-motivated ourselves.”