Unai López “I Can Give Much More, I Don’t Set Limits On Myself”
In just one year Unai López has gone from barely seeing the field to becoming a key player in Gaizka Garitano’s team. The 24-year-old was able to earn a starting role during the preseason and is coming off of his best ever performance in an Athletic shirt where he helped lead the Lions to a 2-0 win over Granada. López admitted in Friday’s press conference that last season wasn’t easy but that he was always confident in himself.
“Last year was hard for me but I knew that I would have options in the preseason. I’m happy. I want to continue this dynamic of playing and as I always say, I can give much more. I don’t set limits on myself. I want to improve day by day in training and contribute more to the team. I’m fine but I’m aware that I can give much more so I have to keep pushing.”
López is happy to have the confidence of Garitano which has given him the freedom to play his best football without pressure. Despite the fact that he’s become a starter, the midfielder knows that he has to continue improving in order to keep his place in the team.
“It’s clear that when you have minutes and the confidence of the Mister, in this case Gaizka, you feel more comfortable. I’ve always trusted myself. I have always trained to make this happen and it’s happening for me now, but I haven’t accomplished anything. We have played 15 games. There is a lot of season left and I’m aware that I have to work hard to continue like this.”
Due to Athletic’s style of football every player is required to defend, which has been an area that has troubled López over the years. However, the Lezama product has shown signs of improvement this season and knows what he must do in order to better help the team be successful.
“I know what is required of me. We have to defend, we have to run, we have to fight and I’m willing to do that. I know it’s very important for the team. I have always said that I feel more comfortable where I am playing now. I have played as a 10 and I can play there, but last year I also had to play some time on the wing. I’m willing to help the team in anyway that I can.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s match against Real Betis, López acknowledged that it will be a very challenging fixture. Still, he is confident that the Basques have what it takes to put in a strong performance and return home with a victory.
“When you look at the table and see the team so high it gives you pride. We are happy and proud, but inside the locker room we know that things go from day to day. Now we will go to Seville and go to the death for the three points. They have a lot of quality and very good players so it won’t be easy, but we know our ability and we are going for the three points.”
For all the improvement that López has shown this season he’s still searching for his first goal. “It’s not something that keeps me from sleeping, it will come,” said the midfielder. “The important thing is that the team is winning. Scoring a goal would make me very excited and I’m trying, but I don’t give it more importance that it has.” Perhaps Unai López will finally be able to open his scoring account this weekend at the Benito Villamarín.