Mikel Vesga “I’ve Returned With The Goal Of Earning My Place At Athletic”
Mikel Vesga has returned to Athletic from yet another successful loan spell and is ready to fight for his place at San Mamés. The 26-year-old featured in 28 matches for Leganés, proving that he can compete in the First Division. Speaking with Fuera de Juego on Tuesday night, Vesga shared that he learned a lot while away last year and has improved as a player.
“I’ve returned more comfortable and settled in the Primera. The matches I played last year helped me gain more experience at this level. The style was different from the one I played with Sporting and Athletic, so it was good for me to learn things that I hadn’t done before and continue growing. At Leganés I was required to improve tactically, to be stronger, more organized, things I didn’t have before.”
After barely playing the previous season, Vesga admitted that he needed to leave to have the opportunity to prove himself. The midfielder is determined to earn his place at Athletic this summer, though he’s open to another loan if he’s not going to have chances under Gaizka Garitano.
“I needed a way out to see that I could compete in the Primera. With Ziganda I was playing at the start of the season, but then I didn’t have the luck to continue. I wanted a change to prove myself. I’ve returned with the goal of earning my place at Athletic and demonstrating that I’m qualified for it. I know what it costs to leave on loan. It has gone well and I would be open to anything, but for now I have my mind set on Athletic. I really want to show everything I’ve learned. I want to have a good season at Athletic.”
Vesga’s goal may be to earn his place, but he’s yet to talk to the manager about the situation. “I haven’t spoken with Gaizka beyond what he wants from me tactically”, admitted the midfielder. “I understand the football he wants me to play. I know I started the first friendly but that doesn’t mean much. These are preparation matches and I want to show that I have a place here.”
Athletic have been training for nearly four weeks and are quickly building on what the manager introduced last season. “Garitano wants and Athletic that plays at a high pace”, Vesga explained. “It’s a type of game that is going very well for us. He has had a lot of influence on the physical preparation so that we are able to play at that rhythm.”
Garitano played a big role in helping Athletic escape relegation last season. It was a difficult situation and one that Vesga admits that he felt even though he was away with Leganés.
“Last year was a roller coaster. Bustinza, Sabin, Eraso, and I suffered with the team but we had no doubt that they would turn things around. I see the group with the same enthusiasm and desire as other years. It’s a joy to train here.”
The Lions have only made one signing this summer, adding Barcelona goalkeeper Jokin Ezkieta, though six players from Bilbao Athletic were called up to train with the first team. “With our philosophy it’s no easy to make signings, but seeing Sancet, Nolaskoain, and the others it’s clear they have a lot of quality”, said the midfielder with pride. “That’s where the club should be strong, with people from here trained to play in the Primera. The young players are our best signings.”