Athletic Club Bilbao sporting director Rafael Alkorta has ruled out the club signing Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain as he does not match their Basque criteria.
It follows a report in Marca earlier this week which claimed Higuain was out of contract at Juve this summer and San Mames could be a possible destination.
It was alleged that Higuain may qualify to play for Athletic as he is the great-grandson of a Basque who emigrated to Argentina – although the club rules on playing staff dictate that only players born in the region or who learned their football skills at a Basque club can represent them.
“I wish he was born or formed here, but he does not meet those two criteria,” Alkorta told Onda Cero.
“A grandparent does not qualify you right now. I don’t know if it will one day, but now it does not.”
The 32-year-old has dual Argentine and French nationality as he was born in Brest – the team where his father played after a career at home with San Lorenzo, Boca Juniors and River Plate.
Higuain’s elder brother Federico, currently playing for MLS club Columbus Crew as a deep-lying forward, was once linked to Real Sociedad and it was at this time that the Basque-French connection came to light.
The father, Jorge, is cited as once saying: “My father always told me that he had been taught that the Basques are neither Spanish nor French, only Basques.”
Higuain has scored eight goals for the Bianconeri this season after returning from last season’s loan stints at Milan and Chelsea, which did not prove to be successful.
He spent six-and-a-half seasons at Real Madrid before having a prolific spell at Napoli, and later moving to Juve.