Athletic Bilbao’s 3-2 away win over English champions Manchester United on Thursday in the Europa League has left me pondering, how are Bilbao successful with their transfer policy? And how would English teams cope with their policy?
Athletic Bilbao are a team in the Basque Country in Northern Spain. However, many citizens of the Basque Country want to become independent from Spain. Therefore, Athletic Bilbao only sign players that are from the Basque Country or have some form of Basque heritage.
Bilbao are one of only three teams in Spain to have never been relegated from La Liga with the others being Barcelona and Real Madrid. This year Athletic Bilbao have also reached the Copa del Rey final where they will face Barcelona. In their history they have won La Liga 8 times and the Copa del Rey 23 times.
Their future looks bright too. Players like Iker Muniain, 19 years-old and Javi Martinez, 23 years-old have shown that they can perform in La Liga. The powerful Fernando Llorente is always going to be a threat, and his tally of 21 goals in 36 matches in all competitions is an impressive one.
If English teams were to implement the same policy as Bilbao the league table would look certainly look very different. Money wouldn’t have such an important rule and as a result teams would not be trying to outspend one another to ‘buy the league’. Football would be a completely different game.