Zubiaurre presented as Athletic Bilbao player, again

November 16, 2006

MADRID, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Defender Iban Zubiaurre was presented as an Athletic Bilbao player for the second time on Thursday, 16 months after signing from Basque rivals Real Sociedad.

Bilbao presented the player as a new signing in July 2005 while he was still under contract to their northern neighbours.

Sociedad demanded Bilbao pay the 32 million euros stipulated in a buy-out clause in Zubiaurre's contract but a judge ruled the clause was 'abusive'. Bilbao and the player were ordered to pay five million euros in compensation, which Sociedad contested.

The 23-year-old has not played with either club during the dispute, which is nearing its end in the courts. The football league have given their blessing for the transfer to go ahead.

'It has been a very difficult and complicated period. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone,' Zubiaurre, who has signed for eight years, told a news conference.

Bilbao, who are 16th in the Primera Liga, only recruit players from the Basque region.