Athletic club Bilbao manager Ernesto Valverde has put an end to the recent speculation linking him with the Real Madrid job by signing a new deal with the Basque side until 2017. The Spaniard was also reportedly among the favourites to replace Vicente Del Bosque in the National team after Euro 2016 but has instead decided to commit his future to Athletic for one more season.
Sport reported on Monday that the Athletic boss led Real Madrid president Florentino Perez's shortlist to take over from Zinedine Zidane in the summer should the Frenchman fail to turn around the current situation of the club in the last part of the season. The club legend replaced Rafa Benitez in January but, having since failed so far to make the impact expected, his long-term position at the club has been under scrutiny, especially after a humiliating weekend defeat in the derby against Atletico Madrid left them 12 points behind Barcelona in the La Liga table.
Valverde said as quoted by Sport: "I know nothing. They have not called me once and I know nothing. I can only talk about my team. I do not think about anything else. I do not answer to rumours in the press.
"My team is Athletic and I do not think about anything else. We are seventh in the league, we can enter another year in Europe and we are also in the Europa League with the tie against Valencia ahead. I do not want to talk about this matter."
And it looks like the manager was telling the truth when a few days later, on Thursday (3 March), the club announced that he has put pen to paper on a new deal to extend his stay at San Mames another season.
"Athletic Club and manager Ernesto Valverde have signed the renewal contract by which the coach will remain with the rojiblanco Club 30 June 2017," the club confirmed.
"I am very happy to continue at Athletic one more year. I appreciate the confidence of the club to renew the contract. We hope to continue the same line and even improve further if it is possible," Valverde added.
Athletic, who won the Spanish Super Cup earlier in the season after beating Barcelona in the final, are seventh in the La Liga table and will play in the Europa League last 16 against Valencia.