RIOS HOLDS THE ACES OVER ATHLETIC

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ATHLETIC BILBAO have been told by Roberto Rios that he will only leave the club during the winter transfer window if he receives an offer he considers good enough.

Rios is out of contract in the summer, like Ismael Urzaiz, and Bilbao face losing two of their biggest stars for nothing in January when they are allowed to talk to other clubs.

When he moved from Real Betis to Bilbao, Rios was heralded as one of Spain's rising stars, with Manchester United putting in a bid for the player, although Sir Alex Ferguson's attempts to net the Spaniard were thwarted.

The defender is not in a hurry to leave San Mames and knows the cards are stacked in his favour, despite not getting his game in Juup Heynckes's side.

Alaves are a club known to be scouting the 29-year-old, but Bilbao face a difficult situation - for him to be allowed to leave in December, he cannot play more than five games for them, and he has already been involved in three league matches and one in the Copa del Rey.

Despite losing defenders Jesus Maria Lacruz, Rafael Alkorta and Ocio, Bilbao have already said they will pick Murillo in front of Rios in an effort to get him to leave the club.  Considering the £7 million Athletic shelled out for the player, it would appear that this has been money largely wasted.