It has been over two months since it was first announced that Yeray had suffered a relapse in his battle with testicular cancer. Since then the 22-year-old has begun chemotherapy and was projected to be able to return to football in mid-September. Yeray has been regularly seen at the Lezama training facility doing running drills and, at times, work with the football. He even gave fans a surprise after the match against Getafe when he came out following the final whistle to run on the pitch with trainer Xabier Clemente. Despite the difficult battle things seem to be going very well for the defender.
During Saturday’s pre-game press conference, manager Kuko Ziganda was asked about Yeray and was very open about the recovery process. He said that the Lezama product is doing well and that his recovery is right on track for him to return in mid-September. He still has one more chemotherapy session left, but the key to a successful return will be patience and calmness.
Yeray instantly became a fan favorite at the San Mamés last season after making his first team debut and quickly earning a role in the starting lineup. His strength, fearlessness, and tackling ability endeared him to the fans as did his midseason battle with cancer. Once it was announced that he had suffered a relapse, fans all across the globe swarmed to his defense by sharing messages of love, encouragement, and appreciation. His teammates also shaved their heads before the season began to show their support to their beloved teammate.
Replacing Yeray has not been easy. The 22-year-old’s partnership alongside Aymeric Laporte has become one of the best in European football and Ziganda was tasked with figuring out a new combination. Xabi Etxeita has played the most minutes in his place and has done reasonably well. Additionally, Unai Nuñez started in that role last weekend, making his first team debut, and showed that he is definitely ready for Primera football. Still, fans will be very excited whenever Yeray is able to return to the pitch. With his recovery being right on track he is expected to return next month, although there is no telling how long it will take before he is ready to feature in an actual game. Kuko Ziganda has called for patience and that is surely the most important thing in a situation like this.