Unai López: I Have Matured As A Footballer

Unai Lopez

Unai López has enjoyed his year on loan at Rayo Vallecano (LaLiga123)

When Unai López left to join Rayo Vallecano on loan last summer it looked like a step backwards for the promising midfielder. He had spent two seasons in La Liga (one with Athletic and one on loan at Leganés) and just didn’t seem to be able to hold up to the level of competition. However, the move has turned out to be just what the 22-year-old needed to turn the corner as he was one of the best players in the Segunda and helped lead Rayo to promotion.

López’s excellent season on loan has many believing that he has a real shot of earning a place in the first team squad this summer. It is not secret that Athletic desperately need help in the midfield, and the Lezama graduate has shown the ability to create behind the forward and dictate possession. He still has to convince new manager Eduardo Berizzo, and told radio show Fuera de Juego that he doesn’t know what Athletic have planned for him at this point.

“I’m living my best time as a footballer. This is the year that I have been the happiest. I needed to have minutes and I’ve had the confidence of my coach. I have matured as a footballer. The season isn’t over yet, so I must be calm. I don’t know anything about what Athletic are planning. I have one more year left on my contract, but for now I’m enjoying my time here. Berizzo? I’m sure he will do a great job at Athletic. I watched his teams at Celta Vigo and their football was beautiful.”

López will have his work cut out for him this summer with Beñat, Ander Iturraspe, Mikel Rico, Mikel San José, Mikel Vesga, and Dani Garcia all standing in his way for a place in the team. Athletic are also pushing to sign Mikel Merino which further complicates things. If he isn’t able to convince Berizzo to keep him at the San Mamés, Rayo Vallecano would love to have him return on loan which would allow the midfielder to continue playing regular minutes. Regardless of the outcome, Athletic are planning on extending López’s contract this summer and believe that he is a definite player of the future.

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