Kike Sola has had a difficult time since joining Athletic Club in 2013. After failing to hold down a regular role in the team he spent time on loan at Middlesbrough, Getafe, and last season at Numancia. Now that he is back in preseason training with the Lions, he wants to convince himself. That is what he told reporters after a training session this week. He also revealed that Cuco Ziganda is the same coach he was when he gave Sola his debut with Osasuna all the way back in 2007.
“I have a lot of desire to come back, to play with my teammates, and from there to work hard and not relax. The most important thing about this preseason is to enjoy it and work to take advantage of the minutes I get. Cuco is still the same Cuco. He has a lot of desire, a lot of ambition, and he is very demanding. The most important thing is that he doesn’t let any player relax or lower his guard.”
It is clear that Athletic Club needs more options in attack. Behind Aritz Aduriz there isn’t much depth unless the team uses someone like Inaki Williams or Sabin Merino in that role. Sola has a very real chance of fighting for a backup role and has already thrown his name into contention with a great goal against Basel in the first friendly of the summer. In fact, the 31-year-old looked very strong against the Swiss side and had fans wondering if he has finally found his best football again.
Sola will have competition of course. Asier Villalibre made his first team debut last season and has been a very exciting prospect while playing for Bilbao Athletic. At the end of last season he actually moved to Numancia on loan for one month and was chosen in the starting lineup over Kike Sola. It is important that Villalibre play regular minutes to continue developing, but there is a very real battle going on between the two to be Aduriz’s backup. Ultimately the decision will come down to Cuco Ziganda who already has a lot of history with both strikers.