Peru Nolaskoain “The Goal Of A Loan Is To Return Home, I’m A Different Player Now”
Before joining Athletic in 2015 Peru Nolaskoain looked certain to sign with Real Sociedad. A product of the famous Antiguoko academy, Nolaskoain was one of the top young players in Gipuzkoa but ultimately made the decision to reject La Real in favor of joining Lezama. Because of his background Nolaskoain has seen both sides of the historic rivalry.
“Of course, I understand it very well but it’s healthy which we all like,” Nolaskoain told Javier Beltrán during an interview with AS. “Nobody wants anything evil or for their rival to be bad. This year it’s been seen that there are two great teams and now we’re waiting for that long-awaited Cup final.”
Real Sociedad tried to tempt Nolaskoain to move to Anoeta last year before he ultimately signed a new contract with Athletic. “I was clear that I wanted to stay in Bilbao,” he says. “I was grateful to the club that allowed me to debut in the Primera and I didn’t hesitate at any time to sign the new contract.”
There was a bit of drama when Nolaskoain originally joined Athletic. When he was young he posted an unflattering message about Aritz Aduriz, but says that all has been forgiven.
“It’s in the past. I really appreciate him and we have very good feelings towards each other. We’ve never talked about it, but some jokes have been made to me. You can see that he understands that I was a child at the time and he’s forgiven me.”
Nolaskoain made his first team debut last season and scored a goal in the same game. However, it wasn’t necessarily the way he had expected it to happen as he started at center-back instead of in midfield where he has always played.
“The truth is that I got along very well. I was never overwhelmed. I enjoyed every day training in defense because something new happened each day and I remember it all very well. I’m thankful for that position change. It’s true that I’m more comfortable in midfield, but in the end the important thing is playing. I have the qualities to play center-back and that allowed me to make my debut, so I’m thankful. Here I’ve played more in the midfield.”
The 21-year-old is currently spending the season on loan with Deportivo where he has stood out as one of the most important players in the team. When offered the chance to join Deportivo, the choice was simple and he’s had the pleasure of sharing the field with several former Athletic players.
“I spoke with Gaizka, who had coached Deportivo, and he told me about the city, the team, and I knew it was a historic club. I knew I wanted to come here and that’s what happened. It’s a great group. The arrival of Sabin has given us a lot of life. I’ve been saying that if he scores 10 goals he should come with me back to Athletic. We joke about it a lot. The squad is very good and has enough to be in the Primera. “
Despite enjoying a very successful season in the Segunda, Nolaskoain’s had a challenging start due to appendicitis. He missed over a month while recovering but quickly earned his place back in the team.
“The appendicitis happened a week after arriving when we were in Huesca. It was difficult. I had to stay at the hotel for three days by myself. It wasn’t good, but after a month everything was getting better.”
Unfortunately, the football stoppage has left everyone in a difficult situation. The return of the certain is uncertain but Nolaskoain is confident that Athletic will extend his loan past 30 June to allow him to finish the campaign with Deportivo.
“There will be no problem staying until the season ends. As soon as I could ask for permission, when we could still travel, I came here to be with my family and not be alone. As soon as they tell me to return I will do it with the same desire as always, but I’m a street man. I miss taking a walk with friends. I’m looking forward to all of this going back to normal.”
It hasn’t been a normal season for Deportivo who have had three different coaches. Nolaskoain admits that things have been odd at times, but changes are often necessary when a team isn’t winning.
“These are new experiences because these things things don’t usually happen in Bilbao, but they do at other clubs. The goal is to win and if you don’t do it then they will look for alternatives. You can’t change 20 players at one time so changing the coach is easier. Vázquez has hit the right key and we’re on the right track. We had seven victories in a row, but then went four games without winning before the season stopped.”
If the season does return Nolaskoain is committed to playing as many minutes as possible and doing what he can to help the team climb the table.
“My goals for the remainder of the season are to accumulate minutes, victories, and leave Dépor in the best position possible. Personally, I want to play well to help the team and show that I can return to Athletic. I’ve been fortunate to have the confidence of the three coaches so I’m happy with my minutes.”
The likely departures of Beñat and Mikel San José could open a path for Nolaskoain to stay at Athletic next season. When asked about the possibility he shared that his objective in leaving on loan was always to earn a place in the first team and that he will return a much different player.
“Well, the goal of a loan is to return home. I would be very excited to go back and stay there. I’m a different player than I was last summer. We’ll see what happens, if there’s room or if I have to go on loan again. I usually talk a lot with Tiko and Alkorta. They’re watching us closely from Bilbao and it’s appreciated. I have lived new experiences, some that I would say have been difficult. When you go on loan you value being home more. I will appreciate it more and I’m sure that I’m a different player now both personally and professionally.”
Fellow Lezama graduates Oihan Sancet and Unai Vencedor are also expected to challenge for a place in the team next season. Nolaskoain praised both players and hopes that one day they can all take the field at San Mamés together.
“I’m close with Sancet and he has a lot of class. We talk a lot, every day, and I tell him that he’s going to be a very, very good player and Vencedor as well. He’s great from set pieces and I’ve rarely seen someone so good playing in the Segunda B. There are always expectations and we have to fulfill them. They’re both very young and there needs to be patience. In time they will be very important for the club. I hope that the three of us can one day share the midfield for Athletic.”
Given the possibility that the Copa del Rey final might be postponed until next season, Nolaskoain could be in the team for the match. “If the date is extended hopefully we will be there next year and we can live it,” he says. Plans are being made for the season to return, though Nolaskoain is still primarily concerned with the pandemic. “The important thing is health and doing everything safely, but there’s no hurry.”
Peru Nolaskoain has made 25 appearances for Deportivo this season, scoring one goal, and establishing himself as one of the top players in the team. He’s proven that he has the quality to play at San Mamés and will return to Athletic at the end of the campaign poised to fight for his place in Gaizka Garitano’s squad.