All discussion in Bilbao is centered around Monday’s huge match with Eibar at Ipurua. The Lions are unbeaten in Basque Derbies this year and will be looking to keep that trend going because a win would give them a six point cushion over the rivals in the La Liga table. However, analyzing their upcoming opponent has also led to transfer rumors popping up. According to talks around Bilbao, Athletic Club is interested in possibly signing Eibar right-back Ander Capa, who spent several years at Lezama.
On the surface, a move for Capa seems unnecessary at this point. Athletic currently has Oscar De Marcos, Eneko Boveda, and Inigo Lekue who can all play the right-back position very well. Capa would be a fourth name in that line, meaning there wouldn’t be enough minutes to keep everyone happy. However, taking a deeper look at the squad reveals why bringing back the 25-year-old could be a wise purchase.
For starters, Boveda has transitioned into a center-back and has played his best football there as of late. While he can still deputize on the right, he has become almost exclusively a central defender. Additionally, Lekue has been used in more of a attacking role this season. Like Boveda he can play well on the right when needed, but has spent a lot of time as a winger. Oscar De Marcos is the only one who has featured solely as a right-back since making the positional switch and the argument could be made that a move away from defensive makes more sense for him than his two teammates.
Signing Capa would give the Lions another strong right-back who has proven himself in La Liga. If he was able to compete with De Marcos for the starting role, it could give the coach the confidence to move De Marcos back further up the pitch. In truth, Athletic is in real need of more attacking options and could gain a wonderful addition if De Marcos was freed up. Still, his form at right-back has been exquisite and he may not be moved back to his old role, but having the option would give the team more options and add a different dynamic.
Keep in mind that any move for Capa would be difficult. Barcelona came calling for the 25-year-old back in February but Eibar refused to sell for anything less than his €10 million release clause. That is a price that Athletic will also not want to meet and Eibar will have no reason to sell. If the Lions really are serious about a move for Capa, he would likely have to push for the transfer. He still has one year left on his contract and Eibar will likely try to negotiate an extension soon.
Ander Capa gave an interview with AS on Thursday looking forward to the match against Athletic and had kind words to say about his upcoming opponent. The right-back admitted that it will be an emotional game for him because he still carries Athletic in his heart. When asked about a possible return, he said that its something he won’t think about until the current season ends.
“I was educated as a child at Athletic. It is my home and I carry Athletic in my heart. It will be an emotional match for me and I really hope that I get to play in it. Rumors about returning to Athletic? That means I must be doing something right, but we have six games left in the season and that is what I am thinking about. It’s nice to have clubs interested in me but I have already told my representative that I want to finish this season first and then talk about my options. I still have one year left on my contract.”
This season Ander Capa has featured in 30 matches for Eibar and has provided two assists. He has done a solid job of balancing his defensive duties while also being able to join the attack. The 25-year-old has caught the eye of other clubs like Barcelona and would provide Athletic Club with another strong player to provide depth and free up others to be utilized in other positions. While signing Capa isn’t really a necessity, it would be a luxury move that would improve Athletic’s overall squad depth and quality.