Being the sporting director of Athletic Club, can be looked at in two ways. Given there is only a certain pool of players available to choose from, it makes it very easy to narrow down the list of transfer targets every summer. Equally, if you have a need in the squad that can’t be filled by the academy, it can be very difficult to do so via the market as with other clubs.
According to the most recent holder of that role, Rafa Alkorta, it’s getting more difficult though. Speaking to Cadena SER, Alkorta explained that no longer did Athletic have the pick of the Basque players, in an interview covered by Diario AS.
“These recent years it’s now more difficult, because the [release] clauses are higher and higher. Until a few years ago, Athletic had players from La Real without any problems, and Oyarzabal and Merino are very good players that could play in any team in La Liga.”
“They are very complete, very good, but they’re out of reach for Athletic.”
As much as it’s perhaps a function of the internationalisation of the market over recent decades, it’s also a sign of the progress of Real Sociedad. Despite some rocky periods in the 21st century, La Real have become a well-run and attractive destination for players seeking European football.