Thought it would only be right that I should do a guide for Athletic Bilbao after my story with them in FM12 and the one in progress just now. First time attempt so apologies in advance!
Along with the first team you have a B team (Bilbao Ath.) who play in the Second Division B2 and who can get promoted all the way up to the 2nd tier in Spain. There is also a C team called Baskonia but I have never seen them in a competitive league.
ATHLETIC BILBAO ARE FAMOUS FOR ONLY SIGNING BASQUE PLAYERS!!!!!!!!!
This obviously makes being Bilbao a challenge - you can also sign Spanish players who are 16 but when they turn 17 you cant get them again.
Facilities wise you start off in the San Mames stadium but in September 2013 the club moves into a new stadium (San Mames Barria) with a larger capacity of 55,000. The club has also got top training facilities and good youth facilites.
Euro Cup Qual - £17.5m & £525,000
Champions Cup Qual - £20.5m & £575,000
Title Challenge - £22.5m & £575,000
As you can see you have a fair bit of cash available to spend and I just went for the Euro Cup Qual option but you could easily do the Champions Cup Qual option and manage. Title Challenge? Depends on how good you are and what you plan to do with Llorente - more on this later.......................
NAME AGE POS VALUE STARS Gorka Iraizoz 31 GK £2.6M 3 Raul Fernandez 24 GK £325,000 2.5
Iraizoz is a decent enough keeper and can play for a few years yet but Raul Fernandez is not up to scratch really and should only be kept as backup until you can get a better one and then he can be sold or moved to improve the B team. There is a decent young keeper in the u19 side called Kepa Arrizabalaga and I recommend putting him out on loan.
Transfer target - The only keeper that is any good and Basque is STEPHANE RUFFIER of Saint-Etienne. I got him inthe 3rd season for £17m but he is good enough at the highest level until a regen comes through.
Jon Aurtenetxe 20 DC/L £1.8M 4 Fernando Amorebieta 27 DC £3.5M 3 Borja Ekiza 24 DC £2.5M 3 Carlos Gurpegi 31 DC/DM/MC £1.6M 2.5 Jonas Ramalho (B) 19 DC/R £325,000 4 Mikel San Jose 23 SW/DC £3.1M 3.5
You have a decent set of centre backs here although I prefer to play Aurtenetxe at LB in the first year. Ramalho has potential but I put him in the B team usually so he can develop there. San Jose is a goalscoring centre half who has a high penalty attribute.
Transfer target - After a couple of years I managed to get the excellent INIGO MARTINEZ off our rivals Real Sociedad and he cost £17m but you can only get him if he is unhappy.
Xabi Castillo 26 D/WBL £1.2M 2 Markel Etxeberria (U19) 17 DR £55,000 4 Andoni Iraola 30 D/WBR £5.5M 4 Enric Saborit (B) 20 D/WB/M/AML £230,000 2.5
Iraola is class but other than that there isnt a lot to shout about here although Etxeberria is definately one for the future. As I mentioned above I play Aurtenetxe at LB.
Transfer target - I recommend MIKEL BALENZIAGA of Real Valladolid as he can play in either full back position and you can get him for £3m. Also you should aim to get the LB, NATXO MONREAL, off Malaga - he has a £10.5m release clause so I would go in for him in January if he is interested. CESAR AZPILICUETA of Chelsea is a dream signing - if you can manage to get him you wont need another RB for a long time. Finally ASIER DEL HORNO is available on a free transfer if you want to keep your cash.
Ander Herrera 22 M/AMC £7M 4 Ander Iturraspe 23 DM/MC £3.4M 3.5 Inigo Perez 24 DM/MLC £1.2m 2.5 Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta 18 M/AMC £650,000 4.5
Herrera is quality - he should be the hub of the team whether you play him at CM or AMC. Iturraspe and Inigo Perez can do a job until you get better while Ruiz de Galarreta turns into a very good player if you give him game time.
Transfer target - BENAT of Real Betis should always be your first signing. He is an extremely good central midfielder who has high passing and set piece attributes. Expect to pay £15m plus though but he is worth it - you need him anyway in the first season.
JAVI MARTINEZ of Bayern Munich is obviously the dream signing along with XABI ALONSO while the other notable Basque central midfielders are RAUL GARCIA (Atletico Madrid), MIKEL ARTETA, MIKEL RICO (Granada) and ASIER ILLARRAMENDI (Real Sociedad). Illarramendi is a very good player but you can only get him if he is unhappy - which I did at £7m. Also playing for a club in Mexico is a talented youngster called JORGE ESPERICUETA.
Oscar De Marcos 23 WB/M/AMRLC £5.75M 4 Ibai Gomez 22 AMRL/ST £2.1M 3.5 Igor Martinez (B) 22 AMRC/ST £875,000 3 Iker Muniain 19 AMLC/ST £10.5M 5 Markel Susaeta 24 AMRLC £5.75m 3.5
Its all about Muniain here. He is world class and he does great wherever you play him be it LW or AMC however in the 2nd season I played him up front as a poacher and he scored o can over 30 goals. Susaeta is better than his star rating and gets goals as does De Marcos. Ibai Gomez is a useful squad player/sub to have.
Transfer target - ANTOINE GRIEZMANN of Real Sociedad is a fantastic young player but once again you can only get him if he is unhappy. I ended up paying £19m for him but he is a class act who scores and assists regularly.
Aritz Aduriz 31 ST £3.3M 3 Fernando Llorente 27 ST £19M 4 Gaizka Toquero 27 AMR/ST £2.6M 2.5
Llorente is world class but you have to make a decision here as he intends to leave on a free transfer at the end of the season. What I did was transfer list him the moment the first window shuts in August and Arsenal came in with a bid of £30m. That way I had him for half a season and I still got cash for him too.
Aduriz is a very good striker and plays brilliantly as a target man - he scored over 30 for me in the first season but I moved Muniain up front in the 2nd season and I sold Aduriz.
Transfer Target - DIEGO FORLAN is the big name Basque out there but other than that there isnt much quality ones. The best are KIKE SOLA (Osasuna) and IMANOL AGIRRETXE (Real Sociedad)
A major overhaul is required here from top to bottom. There is a few decent scouts and a youth coach but other than that they can all go.
I personally like to have a Spanish core of coaches etc and recommend Paco Ayestran, Angel Vales, Rodolfo Borrell and a physio called Javier Vazquez. Also the C team, Baskonia, has an excellent GK coach called Juan Jose Lasuen.
I play a 4-2-3-1 but with Bilbao - because of the flexibility of the players - there are so many options. The back 4 picks itself but with at least 5 (6 if you sign Benat) quality midfielders it is hard to say which works best!
*Do what I did with Llorente (see above)
*When you see good 16y/o regens and you are struggling to sign them you may be able to get them in on loan easier - that way they obtain and keep their Basque nationality.
*The two main positions to find/develop are a goalkeeper and a striker - if you sign Ruffier you have 5 or 6 seasons to get a keeper in and unless you want to play and keep Muniain up front you have to hope to find a striker sharpish with Llorente leaving.