Athletic Bilbao’s Oscar De Marcos and Javi Martinez keen to work with Marcelo Bielsa

Athletic Bilbao duo Javi Martinez and Oscar de Marcos have announced their excitement to get the new season underway with new Coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Forward De Marcos outlined the club’s ambitions for the coming season, insisting they are determined to improve on last season and progress as far as possible in the Europa League. The 22-year-old also admitted that pre-season preparations under new Coach Bielsa have been tense and very demanding.

De Marcos says the players are excited about playing European football next season under Bielsa and they are confident of improving on last season’s sixth place finish in La Liga: “In Europe we will try to go as far as possible and in the league try to maintain our level of performance and improve. What we want is to better last year’s league finish, although our rivals above us are also good sides. So we need to compete and be consistent in La Liga to achieve it.”

Bilbao’s pre-season preparations with Bielsa have been hard going according to de Marcos but following successive wins over Southampton and Werder Bremen, he admits that Los Leones have already shown signs of improvement under the Argentine: “All the exercises have been done as if it was a match situation, and he tries to make the most of every second. He likes us to be very fit and we train a lot. The team is working well at the moment and everything has gone well in the friendlies.”

Upon his return from holiday following Spain European Under-21 Championship victory, 22-year-old Martinez says he feels fit and ready to play in the side’s friendly against CD Numancia on Wednesday.

Bielsa has included Martinez in the squad that will face the Rojillos but the midfielder revealed that he is yet to be told what role he will be required to fulfill under his new manager: “The Coaches have still not told me, but I feel good. I’ve been on vacation and I’ve been running and working, so I’m in shape. If the ‘Mr.’ wants me to play I would be delighted.

“In the European Championship I played a deeper role, trying to carry the ball out from the back, but this year I don’t know. There have been a lot of variations and we still don’t know where each one of us is going to play.”

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