Athletic Club is currently preparing to host Las Palmas at the San Mames on Friday in what will he a tight game. Every player fully participated in training on Tuesday and following that session Mikel Balenziaga spoke to the press. The left-back will reach 200 games with Athletic on Friday and he was quick to point out that he is very proud of himself.
“It is a pretty cool number, I am proud of it. I hope I will have many more. I was not expecting to reach this milestone. When I first arrived here all I wanted was to play for as many years here as possible. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m proud of what I have accomplished. The Super Cup and win in Naples stand out as my happiest moments, but being eliminated by Sevilla and APOEL aren’t happy memories. Scoring my first league goal was special for me too.”
From there, Balenziaga praised manager Ernesto Valverde who he says has given him confidence to be a better player.
“Valverde has given me a lot of confidence. He means a lot to Athletic and the numbers are there to back it up. He has had the club consistently in Europe and has given much to Athletic. You have to respect whatever decision he makes. We hope that he stays, but only he knows what he is going to do.”
Balenziaga also looked ahead to Friday’s game and the rest of the season, saying that the Lions have to take advantage of their home games.
“The games at home are key. We have been strong at the San Mames, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. We must make the most of those games and then also get points on the road. We just loss to Villarreal which was difficult. We are right at our goal because we need to finish in the top six to qualify for Europe. We play Eibar next and they are a direct rival, but honestly everyone is a direct rival right now.”
In closing, the 29-year-old was asked about the rumors regarding transfer target Alex Berenguer. Balenziaga made it clear that adding more talented players is always a great thing.
“The club has to look for the best possible players every year. The reinforcements are good for the team and for competition. You have to have the best possible to be a strong team and constantly improve.”
Athletic Club currently find themselves tied with Eibar for 7th in the La Liga table. However, the Lions do hold the tie breaker after winning the first meeting. On Friday, Valverde’s side will have another great chance to climb the table when they host Las Palmas at the San Mames, where the Basques have only lost twice all year.