Andoni Iraola Confident That Iñigo Vicente Can Play For Athletic Next Season
Spending the season on loan with Mirandés has been incredible for Iñigo Vicente. As one of the most promising players to come through Lezama in recent history, Vicente is on the cusp of joining the first team and being able to learn under Andoni Iraola this year has been invaluable.
“I’m very happy with Iñigo,” said Iraola during an interview with Onda Vasca. “At the attitude level, he’s taken a very good step forward. Every time he plays, either from the start of coming off the bench, he gives us everything.”
When Vicente returns to Athletic at the end of the season Iraola is confident that he will be able to earn a permanent role in the team. “He’s doing very well right now. I’m looking forward to the season returning because he’s been good and looks in good form. He’s a player who can earn his place at Athletic next year.”
Speaking of Athletic, Iraola admitted that he was glad not to have to face his former club during the Copa del Rey. It would have been strange coaching against the Lions but the club legend also made the point that it’s always difficult to beat Athletic in the tournament.
“During the entire Cup we could have been matched against Athletic and it would have been very difficult for me. I didn’t want to face Athletic because they are a very tough opponent in this competition. At the end we got La Real in the semifinal and we competed with them, but couldn’t win. Let’s see what happens in the final.”
Iraola has taken great strides as a coach since arriving at Mirandés. Many have tipped him to eventually return to Athletic to manage the first team, but for now Iraola is simply focused on finishing the season strong.
“Coaches are more exposed than the players. I don’t know how many dismissals there have been in Segunda, maybe 16 or 17. In the end we live almost day by day. You have to focus on your work and my goal is to finish this season with Mirandés and then we’ll see what happens. The truth is that it’s been a very beautiful season and we hope that it will also end well. We’ve had moments to enjoy this year.”
In addition to taking Mirandés to the Copa del Rey semifinals, Iraola also has the team 7th in the Segunda table and just four points back of the promotional playoffs. When the season returns the former Athletic captain aims to fight for a top six finish and Iñigo Vicente could be key to achieving that goal.