Athletic Bilbao midfielder Iker Muniain has been contacted by Napoli over a possible move to the Italian club next season on a free transfer. Muniain's contract with the Basque club expires in June 2019 and reports in Spain suggest that he is unlikely to sign a new deal.
Napoli are prepared to sacrifice making the signing in January to avoid paying a fee for the 25-year-old. By waiting until June, Napoli will not have to trigger the midfielder's release clause, which is the only way of purchasing players from Athletic due to their strict transfer policy.
Reports from Football Italia suggest that Muniain would be interested in a move to Italy as he would join a host of Spanish players who play for the Blues, including winger Jose Callejon and defender Raul Albiol. With manager Carlo Ancelotti employing a possession-based style of football at the Stadio San Paolo, Muniain would provide an attacking outlet on either the left or the right-wing, offering support to forwards Dries Mertins and Arkadiusz Milik.
A product of Athletic's world famous youth academy, Muniain has played over 350 games for the club and so a move away could prove to be a tough decision for the player. The Spanish midfielder made his debut at the age of 16 in 2009 and became the youngest scorer in La Liga history in what was only his sixth start for the club.
In 2012, Muniain played an instrumental role in helping the Lions reach both the Europa League and the Copa Del Rey final, whilst also earning his first and only cap for the national side against Venezuela.
In recent seasons however, the midfielder has struggled with a number of different injuries that have hampered his development as a player. Napoli will hope that by making this signing, Muniain can regain the form that he demonstrated earlier on in his career and help the Blues close the gap to current champions Juventus in the near future.