Raúl García “We Are A Very Solid Team And We Have To Think Positively”
Raúl García enters his sixth season with Athletic and has every intention of extending his time at San Mamés. Since joining the club in 2015 García has made 212 appearances while scoring 63 goals. The 34-year-old’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season, but he hopes to earn a new deal.
“Don’t worry about me because I know what my goals are,” García said during a press conference on Tuesday. “I want to continue here and I’m working to continue here. What I have done before doesn’t matter. Each season is new and I demand more of myself than what others demand of me. Football has given me many experiences and I know that myself and my family are happy here. Whatever the club decides will be fine.”
Rulo, as he is affectionately known in Bilbao, has found a new home with Athletic. He intends to do everything possible to earn a new deal and continue his career at San Mamés.
“You are more concerned about the renewal than I am. My relationship with the club is very good. I’ve experienced a lot in football and I’m not obsessed about renewing. I want to continue here and I feel like I can. Everything will be just siting down and signing.”
Throughout his career García has often been accused of being an overly aggressive player. He maintains that it’s not true. “I try to be very professional so that no one can blame me at all,” he says. “Many times the character of image that I have harms me for those who don’t know me.”
García has had the full support of Athletic fans since signing with the club. He’s become a hero in Bilbao, though he doesn’t know why fans have started the new season with so much negativity.
“I don’t understand how fans aren’t excited about a new year. In football you have to be strong in the dressing room and from there fans have the pride that they always have with their team. We’re all in the same place, the same boat, and that’s why we have to try to be positive.”
Athletic kicked off the new season with a disappointing 2-0 loss to Granada last weekend. When asked about the result García emphasized that the players fully trust Gaizka Garitano and said the fans should back the team.
“What worries me is what I see inside. The team trusts the coach and we know what we have here. It doesn’t help that people question the coach, the players, and the club. But that’s how football is. The team knows it’s a beautiful year and we will have important things to fight for. We’ll see who gets on the boat later, but we’ll always be there.”
The Lions have an exciting and challenging season ahead. In addition to playing the Cup final from last season, Athletic will also start the new Cup and compete in the Spanish Super Cup as well.
“Every Athletic fan will be happy to reach the Cup final. The team feels the same way. I never talk about long-term goals. The most important thing is to win the next game. When you think about day-to-day life you can achieve important things. Europe is a beautiful goal. We’re aware what it’s difficult because there are many strong teams, but we can reach those goals if we are 100% this season.”
The performance at Los Cármenes wasn’t all bad. Ultimately, the loss came down to a few minutes where Athletic made mistakes. García recognizes the issues, but also the things that went well.
“There are things to correct. Without the errors that led to the goals, which were errors for the whole team, we wouldn’t have lost. I’m clear that in the first half the team played well. I assume my responsibility of not finishing chances. We are a very solid team and we have to think positively. We can push forward.”
Fans are hopeful that there will be some new signings this summer. The club has been heavily linked with Javi Martínez and Alex Berenguer. García admits that any new players would be welcomed, though he’s also confident in the current squad.
“It’s not necessary to only look outside. I hope that those who have come up will also be important for the club. It’s true that every year other teams are strengthened and our market is what it is. They are evaluating it. If someone arrives, let them come, but you have to move forward with confidence in the group that is already here.”
Lastly, García touched on the current situation with Unai Núñez. The defender revealed that he’s asked to leave on loan as a condition to signing a new contract. In García’s opinion, Núñez should stay and work hard to earn his place.
“Unai is young and has to learn. It’s good that he wants to play and has that demand on himself. I would tell him to work, although work doesn’t always give you success because it doesn’t work like that in football. He’s not a player that hasn’t played. He’s an important player and we want him to be here, but he has to be aware that you to work, you to fight, and if you really want something you have to try to earn it.”
Athletic take the field again in two weeks when the Lions travel to Ipurua for the first Basque Derby of the season. In the meantime, the team will play two friendlies against Sevilla on Friday to continue improving. Having this break gives Athletic time to prepare for a promising stretch of games ahead.