It has become very clear that there will be changes at Athletic this summer. On top of a bringing in a new manager, a squad overhaul is also expected. Because of this there have been plenty of rumors linking players with a switch to the San Mamés, but it is easy to forget the there are other options that are already in house. One of those players is midfielder Unai López who is currently on loan at Rayo Vallecano and has been sensational this season.
López was sent on loan to Leganés last season but struggled to play regular minutes. This summer he left to join Rayo, which was immediately seen as a step backwards, but it couldn’t have worked out any better. He has been a regular starter and has found his footing against strong competition. The 22-year-old recently gave an exclusive interview with Javier Beltran of AS and admitted that the move to Rayo has been exactly what he needed.
“It has been an important year for me. I’ve been maturing and I have especially improved in my decision making and being able to control games. I am a much better player than before. I think this is what I needed after last year where things were weird at Leganés. I have found a good place in the team. We play a diamond and, whether I am on the right or the left, I am comfortable.”
The Lezama product went on to say that he has felt important playing for Rayo and that he is calm about his future. With one year remaining on his contract with Athletic Club he has plenty of time remaining to prove he deserves a place in the first team next season.
“Above all I feel important in the team. I had not felt that for a while and I feel it here. I am very loved and I am glad that I made the decision to come here. I am calm about my future. I’m at Rayo and right now I am just focused on finishing the season well and continuing to improve so that nice things can happen for my future. Right now I’m focused on helping Rayo earn promotion.”
In closing, Lo\ópez touched on the disappointing season that has plagued Athletic Club, but was quick to say he believes things will turn around quickly. He plans to fight hard this summer to stay in the first team, but right now he can only focus on helping Rayo in their quest for promotion.
“We all know that it hasn’t been a good season at Athletic, but they have a great team and I believe that between now and the end of the season the results will improve. Next year will be better for sure. I have one more year on my contract and I will fight to stay at Athletic. I’ll work hard this summer. Obviously it is my goal to stay in the team, but I’m calm and focused. Right now I want to help Rayo to the Primera.”
Despite Unai López’s much improved form, he will have still competition to earn a place in the first team this summer. He already has the likes of Mikel San José, Ander Iturraspe, Mikel Rico, Mikel Vesga, Raúl García and Beñat standing in his way and the Lions could also bring in Dani Garcia and Mikel Merino. Still, there is no denying that he has taken a major step forward while on loan this season. Only time will tell what will happen with the 22-year-old, but he finally looks to be in a good place in his career.