Cristian Ganea “I Think Leaving On Loan Was The Best Thing For Me”
Cristian Ganea is enjoying his time at Numancia. The 26-year-old left Athletic on loan earlier this month and has already made two starts for the Segunda side while playing good football. On Saturday he sat down with Javier Beltrán of AS for an exclusive interview and admitted that he is very happy at the club and has the confidence of the coach.
“I’m doing very well. I’m very comfortable and happy with my teammates. It’s very cold around here. In my second game, the one we played at home, there was snow but I’m already used to it from Romania. When I was told about Numancia I already knew that Aritz López Garai (the Numancia manager) was there. I talked to my parents and my representatives and I knew he’s from Basauri. In fact, I played with him once in the Basauri team. That doesn’t mean it influenced my decision though. I chose Numancia because of everything my Athletic teammates told me. Garai has asked me to play my football. He’s giving my all the confidence in the world and I work hard in every training session so that I can do very well.”
Making the move to Numancia has also allowed Ganea to meet up with Guillermo who came through Lezama and the two played together for Euskadi when they were kids. The left-back said that football in the second division is highly competitive and that everyone is working to make it to the top flight.
“Guillermo and Unai Medina welcomed me here very well. I knew that Unai is fro Basauri, although I didn’t know him personally. I actually played for the Euskadi Cadete team with Guillermo when we were younger. There is a very nice team here. There are three or four of us that can play left-back and in each training we are fighting to the fullest. The second division is competitive and you really have to play defense. It will be good for me to learn here. It’s a high level of football and you have to play well and take a step to the Primera, which is what every player at this level want.”
When asked about his lack of chances at Athletic Ganea said he doesn’t believe that getting sick during the preseason really affected anything because he never missed training. When he first came to Athletic he knew that it would be hard to earn a place in the team and not playing every week was difficult for him.
“When we were in the preseason in Germany I got sick and it affected me for two weeks, but I didn’t miss even one day of training. I think that’s important. I didn’t stop training because I knew what the preseason meant and that I had to be there every day to be at the level of my teammates. I don’t know if that affected my limited playing time or not. I came with all the hope in the world. I trained hard and I knew it would be difficult for me to win the job, but nothing is impossible. I saw that there was little confidence in me, that I played very little, and then Numancia came. I thought about it for two days. I’m a player that used to playing and being in the starting lineup and that made it hard.”
Despite his lack of chances, Ganea said that he had a good relationship with Eduardo Berizzo who viewed him more as a winger than a defender. Just when he was starting to get more opportunities Berizzo was dismissed and the 26-year-old had to start all over with Gaizka Garitano as the new manager.
“I had a very good relationship with Berizzo. He game me his opinion and said he saw me more as a winger than a left-back. While he was here I respected him. I played my first game at the San Mamés in the cup and I think I did well. I played a good match, but there wasn’t too much confidence in me. I played only little with him and when I started to have opportunities he left. Gaizka came and I had to start from scratch. I was one of the only players in the team who didn’t already know him and I imagined that it would be difficult for me to play a role. I tried to train at the top level, to show what I’m worth, but Numancia came and I think leaving was the best thing for me.”
Not having experience at this level certainly made it difficult for Ganea to get chances, but so did competing against Yuri Berchiche and Mikel Balenziaga. The Romanian praised his Athletic teammates and said leaving for Numancia was the right move and that he will return in the summer ready to fight for his place at the San Mamés.
“Yuri and Mikel are two very good players, everyone knows that. The coaches trust more in the player with experience and who have played in these games. I think that’s been my biggest problem. That’s why I came to Numancia, to return to playing games and to get stronger and see what happens in the summer. Of course, I want to go back home and show what I’m worth.”
In closing, Ganea discussed how things unfolded under Garitano. He said that the new manager explained that it would be very difficult for Ganea to get minutes and the 26-year-old appreciated Garitano’s honesty. There was a chance that he could leave Spain on loan but he ultimately decided that staying in the country would give him the best chance to prove himself and be visible to the coaches at Athletic.
“Gaizka conveyed his opinion to me, that it was very difficult for me to play because he had no references to my matches and that there weren’t a lot of chances. He told me that I’m a great player, that I am very good, but that the team wasn’t in a situation to give me minutes because I didn’t have experience at this level. I accepted his opinion and he was sincere. I had the option to go abroad on loan, but I spoke with my representative and with my family and we all thought that the best thing was to stay in Spain on loan so that people could see my football.”
Cristian Ganea has played well since joining Numancia. Having the opportunity to be on the field every week will help him acclimate to football in Spain and give him the minutes needed to prove himself before returning to Athletic at the end of the season. Ganea’s goal is still to succeed at the San Mamés and for him to do that he must make the most of this time at Numancia.