Andoni López Continues To Impress While On Loan With Almeria
When a player leaves on loan you never know what will happen. Sometimes it goes well and other times it’s a bad fit. Every now and then the move will be absolutely perfect and that happens to be the case for Andoni López who joined Almeria for the rest of the season back on 18 August. The 22-year-old approached the loan with the hope of proving himself worthy of a place in Athletic’s first team and so far he’s been exceptional.
López has had the confidence of coach Fran Fernández since day one. He’s played in all but one league games since joining the team and has already accumulated 1,170 minutes, second only to right-back José Romera. He’s done a fantastic job of balancing his defensive duties with joining the attack, which is an area where he has always excelled, and is already being talked about as one of the best left-backs in all of the Segunda.
It may only be November but Andoni López has quickly become a fan favorite at the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos and he’s done it by playing great football. The 22-year-old knew that he needed to improve his overall defensive abilities this season if he wanted to return to Athletic and compete for a place in the first team, and that’s exactly what he’s done. Over the past few months he’s shown better positioning, more controlled physicality, and a tackling touch that had been a bit raw.
At this point in the season López is averaging 1.6 interceptions, 4.5 recoveries, 2.8 clearances, and 2.6 successful aerials duels which are all twice as much as the league average for a defender. He’s also in the top half of duels won and tackles per game as well.
Even though his focus has been on improving his defending, López has also done a better job going forward as well. He’s balancing his runs and has been sharper when crossing the ball into the box. The Lezama product even scored his first goal as a professional footballer earlier this month when he finished off a chance in the box to give Almeria a 2-1 win over Sporting Gijon.
Andoni López has always shown the potential to become a special player. He stood out among his peers with CD Basconia and Bilbao Athletic, and he’s doing the same now in the Segunda with Almeria. Before leaving on loan the 22-year-old signed a new contract with Athletic through 2021 and his objective this season has been to earn his place at the San Mamés next year. If López continues to play at such a high level this season he could definitely achieve that goal.