Athletic Loan Watch: Andoni López Loses His Place Due To Injuries
Training with the first team over the summer proved to be an interesting time for Andoni López. After two very impressive years with Bilbao Athletic, the young left-back was called up by then-manager Eduardo Berizzo who transitioned him to center-back. The move was partly due to Iñigo Martinez’s injury, but also because López showed the quality to excel in the position.
In the end, the Lezama product wouldn’t stay in the first team. With so many players ahead of him in the pecking order, he was sent out on loan to Almeria in the Segunda after first signing a contract renewal through 2021. López left Athletic with the goal of proving himself and returning in the summer ready to battle for a place in the first team.
His excursion to Andalusia started as well as hoped. López was a regular starter in Alfonso García’s team, playing in his usual left-back role, while also quickly winning over the fans. He was in the lineup for the first 15 games of the season, assisting on a goal and scoring one of his own. For the opening months of the campaign, López was proving to be one of the best defenders in the league, but it wouldn’t last forever.
In early December the 22-year-old began suffering from a muscle injury and missed three straight games. He was back on the bench the next month, but wouldn’t make an appearance until 19 January when he registered 19 minutes in a scoreless draw against Cadiz. López hasn’t seen the field since that match. He’s been left out of the squad completely 5 times and has lost his place in the team to Iván Martos.
Having featured just once in the last 13 games doesn’t bode well for Andoni López. It’s true that the 22-year-old impressed when he was in the lineup, but not being on the field makes it extremely difficult for a player to prove himself. The defender will be hoping to enjoy more consistent minutes in the final stretch of the season, though at this point that looks unlikely. When López returns to Athletic in the summer he will once again try to convince the manager to keep him in the team. He played some of his best football at Bilbao Athletic under Garitano, which could help his cause, but if he is unable to earn his place he will likely return to the second division on loan.