Athletic Loan Watch: Cristian Ganea Making The Most Of His Opportunities
Cristian Ganea’s career at Athletic didn’t start the way he had hoped. After being signed from Viitorul, and then staying the season on loan, he expected to arrive last summer with the chance to battle for the starting left-back role. That all changed when the club signed Yuri Berchiche. Ganea’s chances of playing regular minutes immediately diminished and he found it extremely difficult to get on the field.
Through the middle of January the 26-year-old had only been in the squad for a total of 4 games, starting once in the league and another in the Copa del Rey. Injuries and suspensions to other players helped Ganea make his debut, but it was clear that he wasn’t in the manager’s plans. Gaizka Garitano would eventually explain to the Romanian that it was important for him to leave in order to enjoy consistent minutes and prove himself.
In January Ganea accepted an offer to join Numancia on loan and it’s gone extremely well. He’s started in all 10 of the club’s games since making the switch and has quickly proven himself to be one of the best left-backs in the Segunda. Ganea has defended well, showed his skill with the ball at his feet, and is transitioning nicely to the Spanish game. Consistently performing at a high level in the second division will go a long way in helping the 26-year-old return to Athletic in the summer prepared to battle for his place in Garitano’s squad.
There is one thing that could hold Ganea back in the final weeks of the season. In Monday night’s match against Malaga he felt pain in his left leg and had to be taken off at halftime. He would report to training with the Romanian National Team the following day where it was discovered that he is suffering from a Grade I muscle strain. Ganea has returned to Numancia where he will miss at least 2 weeks recovering from the injury. In short, his loan spell has gone even better than expected and the hope is that this injury won’t be too serious of a setback over the remainder of the campaign.