Iago Herrerín Proving To Be One Of The Best Goalkeepers In La Liga This Season
Iago Herrerín has spent his entire career in the shadows. After returning to Athletic in 2012 he spent several years sitting behind Gorka Iraizoz, eventually doing the same with Kepa Arrizabalaga. Over the summer the Lezama product was open about his desire to succeed at the club, but he also made it clear that he wanted to play regular minutes. He was finally given the chance after seeing Kepa leave for Chelsea and it’s safe to say that he’s proved himself.
Unfortunately, Herrerín began the season with a bicep injury which thrust Unai Simón into the starting lineup. The 21-year-old did a fantastic job, but as soon as Herrerín was healthy again he was immediately back on the field. It was his experience and the belief that he could play at a high level that saw Herrerín unanimously given the starting role. He hasn’t disappointed.
In 18 league games this season Herrerín has conceded just 15 goals while earning 8 clean sheets. He’s allowing 0.83 goals per game which is second only to Atlético Madrid’s Jan Oblak. The 31-year-old also boasts a 44% clean sheet percentage which is, once again, second only to Oblak. Although his .692 save percentage is only the 12th best in Spain, several of his goals were conceded in difficult situations while the team was playing in Eduardo Berizzo’s system. Statistically, Iago Herrerín has been one of the best goalkeepers in La Liga this year.
Of course, clean sheets and conceding goals aren’t just because of goalkeepers. It takes a strong defense to put up numbers like these and Athletic have certainly improved in this area under Gaizka Garitano. Herrerín has had less shots to deal with and he’s been helped by a solid defense, but he’s also played at a high level, making some huge saves over the past few months. That being said, looking back to last season really puts Herrerín’s stellar play into perspective.
As the starter last year Kepa Arrizabalaga made 30 appearances, conceding 43 goals. He allowed 1.43 goals per game and managed to secure only 7 clean sheets. It’s important to mention that the team as a whole struggled under Ziganda, but Herrerín performed much better while Kepa was injured. In his 8 league games Herrerín only conceded 6 goals, allowing 0.75 goals per game, and had 4 clean sheets. What’s more, Herrerin boasted a save percentage of .800 while Kepa’s was only .684. It may be a small sample size, but Herrerín was great last season and the club wisely rewarded him with a new contract in January.
There are still areas of Herrerín’s game that need improvement. He’s never been afraid to leave his line to run out and challenge for a ball, which has led to problems on some occasions, and he tends to have issues with powerful shots from outside the box. Still, he is great at saving close chances, challenging balls in the air, and is one of the best long ball passers in all of Spain.
Iago Herrerín has always been a very talented goalkeeper, but he never really had the opportunity to fully prove himself at Athletic. Now, being the unrivaled starter has helped him gain the confidence and rhythm needed to play at his very best level. The numbers show that he’s been one of the top keepers in La Liga and no one at the club is surprised about it. Though Herrerín has spent his entire career in the shadows, he’s now standing in the sunlight and shining.