Unai López “It Seems Like Every Year Is Crucial For Me”
Unai López continued his fine preseason form on Saturday, scoring a goal to help lead Athletic to a BetWay Cup win over West Ham at London Stadium. The midfielder is proving that he could be Gaizka Garitano’s choice to start in the league opener against Barcelona. López was full of praise for his team after the game and acknowledged that West Ham were a very strong opponent.
“I think West Ham is a good team in the Premier League. Their competition starts next week and they are very well prepared. We had to suffer at times because they are a great team and played very well. It wasn’t easy. They tied the score but we managed to win the match in the penalty shootout. I think the team has done a phenomenal job to achieve the victory.”
Despite his great performances this summer, López isn’t making any assumptions about his role. The 23-year-old knows that he impressed last year but barely saw the field throughout the campaign.
“You have to be calm. Last year in the preseason it also seemed that things had changed and it ended up being a tough year. I have to work harder than ever to play because that’s my goal. It’s everyone’s goal. I’m working every day to be better and help the team as much as possible. It seems like every year is crucial for me. It was like that last year and the previous year when I went to Rayo. We still have two weeks to polish all aspects and I’m just trying to do what Garitano asks of the midfielders.”
In closing, López commented on his opening goal against West Ham. “I just put the ball in and the defender wasn’t able to clear it well and it went in the goal”, he said with a smile. The Lezama product showed against West Ham that he can compete against top opponents but will need to do so consistently to earn regular minutes this season.