When Athletic Club announced that they had signed Viitorul left-back Cristian Ganea, fans were understandably confused. Most had never heard of the Romanian international, let alone had actually seen him kick a football. Regardless, the 25-year-old had grown up in the Basque town of Basauri and played for Basque clubs as a child before making the move to Romania, which made him eligible to wear the Athletic shirt. With Ganea not joining Athletic until the summer, fans have spent time getting to know him better and he put on a dazzling show over the weekend.
In a 3-3 draw with CSU Craiova, Ganea was involved in every goal for Viitorul and was arguably the best player on the pitch. The first goal of the game saw saw Ganea lift a pass over the defense to his teammate who was then in on goal to give his side the 1-0 lead. Later Ganea timed his run perfectly to receive a pass with only the keeper to beat. The 25–year-old perfectly chipped the keeper to score the goal. Then, to cap things off, Ganea took advantage of a spilled pass with the goalkeeper off his line to blast a shot from deep. It was a perfect display from the future Athletic player, who also showed that he can play in an attacking role and not just as a left-back.
Ganea has been in great form this season which has Athletic fans excited. Taking the game against CSU Craiova into account, the 25-year-old has now scored six goals in all competitions and given five assists. It should also be said that Ganea’s versatility has been put on display in a way that Athleticzales were not aware of. He has played in his natural left-back role 23 times this season, but has also featured in a more attacking role 12 times. The Viitorul player remains excited about making the switch to the San Mamés and has said that he hopes that he is proving his worth this season.
Athletic’s left-back position has been an area of concern for quite some time. Over the last few seasons Mikel Balenziaga has played well, but this year he has struggled with injuries and his form has dropped. Enric Saborit has had to fill in quite a bit, but his contract is set to expire in June and the club has yet to approach him about a renewal. Ganea will hopefully provide added stability next season, but there are also rumors suggesting that Athletic are pursuing PSG’s Yuri Berchiche who would be expected to immediately become the starter. Regardless, there is reason to be excited about Ganea’s arrival.