Yuri Berchiche “I Won Four Titles With PSG, But Winning A Cup With Athletic Would Be Unforgettable”
Athletic’s surprise signing of Yuri Berchiche in the summer of 2018 sent shockwaves throughout Bilbao and has been a massive success. As the second-most expensive player in club history, there were high expectations for the defender and it hasn’t taken him long to establish himself as one of Europe’s top left-backs. Berchiche has been a thrill to watch throughout the season, though like everyone else he’s now quarantined to his home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m living it with a lot of uncertainty,” he told AthleticTV during Monday’s virtual press conference. “You see the news and it’s really worrying, but I’ve already said that I’m calm and that everyone has to do their bit to help things go back to the way it was before. We have good people around that doing important work. I’m a little sad because this has never happened before but hopefully it will get better and for that to happen we must all do our part.”
Like many others, Berchiche has created a daily plan which is helping him stay on track and manage the eagerness of getting back on the field. The club has provided each player with an individualized training plan to do at home, but it’s no substitute for working at Lezama.
“I wake up around 10:30am and during the morning, after I eat breakfast, I do a training session. After eating lunch I do another exercise session, sometimes with my wife. The days are pleasant and being together has been quite pleasant. We are going to have to be strong because it looks like this situation is going to last and this will be the routine for a long time.”
Berchiche has openly been supportive of lower the squad’s wages in order to help those more unfortunate during this time. “I could understand if the club asked for financial support from the squad, but we have to take this step by step,” he reiterated. “Everyone in the team would be willing to reach out to the people who need help. It’s only fair.”
Having joined Athletic from PSG, Berchiche is often asked to compare the two clubs. Although he looks back on his time in Paris with fondness he admits that there’s a closeness at Athletic unlike anywhere else.
“The locker rooms at PSG and Athletic are very different. I’ve fit in very well in both, but perhaps the atmosphere here is more familiar with people from here. There may be more union, but in Paris I was close to a group of South Americans who I miss. I’m happy to have enjoyed that time there.”
When asked about his favorite moment as a professional footballer, Berchiche didn’t respond with a lifting a trophy. Instead, he says that the goal he scored in the Cup semifinal second leg against Granada was by far his greatest achievement as it sent Athletic to the Copa del Rey final.
“My best moment in football was the goal against Granada, without a doubt. I have not had any other moment of such joy. It’s not easy fora club like Athletic to reach a final and doing it with people from home is incredible. It was a special moment and I will always remember it. I hope I can score in the Cup final and the goal will help us win it. It’s my dream goal.”
As of right now there’s still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the Cup final. The football stoppage has put the season in jeopardy and there’s a chance that the match might not happen. “It would be unfair if the final couldn’t be played or if the fans couldn’t attend, but if it has to be suspended because there is a great risk, so be it,” said Berchiche. “The first thing is to get everyone healthy so we can all go to the stadium.”
Despite winning trophies while playing for PSG, Berchiche says that lifting the Cup title with Athletic would be far greater. For what it would mean to the club, the 28-year-old dreams of bringing silverware back to Bilbao.
“Winning the Cup with Athletic would be the most important I’ve ever won. I won four titles with PSG, but it’s true that winning a Cup at Athletic would be unforgettable because of the importance that it would have for the club. It would be incredible and I can just imagine the fans partying along the water.”
Based on the season as a whole it’s hard to imagine that Real Sociedad won’t be the favorites in the Cup final. “Anything can happen in a match, the smallest detail or a penalty,” responded Berchiche. “It’s not like an entire season. Maybe it’s more something that we have more experienced players. Our squad is more experienced than La Real who are young but very, very good.”
In hopes of finishing the domestic seasons the European championship has been moved from the upcoming summer to next year. Berchiche figured to be one of the players included in the Spain squad but says that he isn’t concerned about the postponement.
“You don’t know what the coach had in his mind or what he was going to do. I work hard with my club in the best way possible to be as competitive as possible. If that reward comes then I would be happy, but I never really think about it. The first priority is to play well for my club.”
Having been in such great form some questioned if the stoppage could hurt Berchiche’s rhythm. “Not at all, it can actually come in handy,” he responded. “Some players have had many minutes and this time can be used to refresh the legs and the mind. We’re trying to lose as little shape as possible, but rest is also good. I’m very adapted and very comfortable in the team.” When the season does return, players like Yuri Berchiche will have to be at their best to help Athletic compete at the highest level.