Oier Luengo Earning His Place At Bilbao Athletic In Second Season At Lezama
Bilbao Athletic had a shaky start to the season as the team looked to find their rhythm following several changes. New manager Joseba Etxeberria brought different ideas, there was vast turnover in the squad, and several injuries complicated things even further. One of the biggest issues that Etxeberria had to tackle was the defensive structure which has now turned into a strength.
Last year’s center-back pairing of Dani Vivian and Gorka Pérez was impressive, but Pérez’s summer exit left a massive hole in the backline. Etxeberria tried multiple pairings with Javier Murua getting chances early on, but an injury to Vivian left the manager with even fewer options. Jon Sillero was eventually moved inside from right-back where he eventually found himself partnered with Oier Luengo.
Luengo came into the preseason knowing that he would have chances to prove himself. The defender had joined Bilbao Athletic last season from Amorebieta where he was already one of the best players despite his age, but found it hard to break into the team at Lezama. Neither Gaizka Garitano nor Aritz Solabarrieta gave Luengo many chances and he eventually returned to Amorebieta on loan after just two appearances with the Kumeak.
Once again, Luengo played well. He continued to show why Bilbao Athletic had signed him in the first place and this season he’s starting to do the same. With Vivian sidelined with muscle discomfort, Luengo has quickly earned a place for himself in the lineup. The 21-year-old has started the last three games and even scored the winning goal against Arenas Club over the weekend with a sublime header from a corner kick.
The future is still uncertain for Luengo who will find it extremely difficult to fight for a place in the first team. Dani Vivian’s return from injury will complicate things as well, though he could be called up to the first team at times and Sillero isn’t a natural center-back either. Luengo will still have chances as the season progresses and may have already done enough to earn more regular playing time moving forward.
Whatever comes next, Luengo has proven that he can be an important player for Bilbao Athletic. The 21-year-old is confident in his challenges, physical, strong in the air, and reads the game well. His first year at Lezama may not have gone according to plan, but the Amorebieta starlet has found his footing at Lezama. As the Kumeak fight for possible promotion this season Oier Luengo will be a player that Etxeberria can trust throughout the long and challenging campaign.