Bielsa to leave Bilbao

Athletic Bilbao president Josu Urrutia has confirmed that coach Marcelo Bielsa will not have his contract renewed when it expires at the end of this month.

"Yesterday, in the final board meeting of the season, we decided unanimously to not propose that Marcelo Bielsa continue as coach," he told a press conference. "I understand that there are fans that wanted Bielsa to continue and it is right to recognise his work, commitment, dedication and what he has contributed, but this is what is best for Athletic."

Bielsa has been in charge at Athletic for the past two seasons, but after a hugely succesful first campaign in charge Athletic failed to live up to expectations this season. The Argentine led the Basques to both the UEFA Europa League and Copa del Rey finals last season with some exceptionally entertaining football, although they eventually went onto lose both 3-0 to Atletico Madrid and Barcelona respectively.

This season, however, was a different story as after previously refusing to sell want-away stars Javi Martinez and Fernando Llorente, Bayern Munich paid Martinez's €40m buyout clause before the close of the transfer window in August and Bielsa relegated Llorente to the bench for much of the season.

Early exits from both the Europa League and Copa del Rey ensured there would be no such success in the cup competitions this year and there was a period where Athletic even flirted with relegation. A decent end to the campaign eventually pulled them clear of the bottom three, but a 12th placed finish still wasn't enough to convince the board that Bielsa was worthy of a new deal.

Ernesto Valverde is now the strong favourite to return to the place where he started his coaching career after announcing last week that he would not be continuing as Valencia coach next season.