Football News

Why Athletic Bilbao won’t be signing Gonzalo Higuain despite transfer rumours

By Steve Jennings

Published: 20:27, 5 March 2020

Gonzalo Higuain will not join Athletic Bilbao despite reports suggesting the Juventus striker could move to La Liga, according to the club’s sporting director.

Earlier this week, Spanish newspaper Marca linked Higuain with a summer switch to Bilbao when his Juventus contract expires at the end of the season.

How does Athletic Bilbao’s unique player policy work? Five things to know…

  • Bilbao adhere to an unwritten rule when it comes to who can play for the club.
  • Players must have been born in the Basque Country in order to play for Bilbao.
  • Alternatively, players who have been developed by a Basque club can also qualify.
  • A number of players with Basque grandfathers have been linked in the past but moves have failed to materialise due to the club’s strict policy.
  • Gonzalo Higuain is the latest player of Basque heritage who is seemingly not eligible to make the move to the San Mames Stadium.

But Bilbao’s player policy – which requires footballers to be born in the Basque Country or developed by a Basque club – means a deal for 32-year-old is highly unlikely.

Higuain, an Argentina international, is of Argentine and French heritage, but his great grandfather was of Basque-French origin and his eldest brother Federico played for Basque club Real Sociedad.

However, despite his roots, Higuain has been warned that merely having a Basque national in the family isn’t enough to play for Bilbao.

Speaking to Onda Cero, Bilbao director of sport Rafa Alkorta reiterated the club’s player policy, all but ruling out a move for Higuain in the process.

“In order to sign for us, you must’ve been either born or formed as a player here,” Alkorta said.

“If you do not fit these rules, then it doesn’t count. I don’t know if one day those rules could be modified, but right now, that is what they are.”

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Higuain has scored 63 goals in 137 appearances across all competitions for Juventus since joining from Napoli in 2016.

However, the forward has found the net just eight times this term, amid suggestions he will not sign a new contract with the Italian champions at the end of the season.

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