Inigo Cordoba is the player that everyone is talking about. The 20-year-old just extended his contract with Athletic through 2021 and is set to spend the preseason with the first team. This move seems to be a sign that the Lions have chosen to rely on their own academy product rather than enter a bidding war for Alex Berenguer. Cuco Ziganda is more than familiar with the winger from their two years together at Bilbao Athletic. However, before that it was Gontzal Suances that coached Cordoba at Juvenil A and CD Basconia. In a recent interview with Mundo Deportivo he discussed Cordoba and highlighted his immense understanding of the game of football.
“He is a very intelligent player. He understands the game very well as a whole even though he is only a winger. He reads passes well and knows when to track back and when to drift inside to get the ball. Inigo is a well-rounded player who is capable of overflowing into other positions because of how well he sees the game. He has a lot of quality and class and he can do a lot of damage. He doesn’t get nervous because he is a relatively quiet and calm person, even when he is scoring goals.”
Suances went on to say that Cordoba will provide Athletic will something special due to the fact that he is left-footed. He also says that the winger’s ability to keep close possession of the ball makes him a difficult player to cover defensively. For all of Cordoba’s attacking ability, he also understands the importance of defending.
“For a few years now Athletic has not managed to have a player of his profile. A left-footed player who has great characteristics and can cut inside. When you see him on the field he may not look very aggressive, but he is always up for the challenge. In one-on-one situations he does well. He keeps the ball close to his body and that makes it difficult to stop him. He also attacks well down the wing and when he comes centrally. The goal is always on the horizon. Being left-footed is something different for the team, but he isn’t just strong attacking, he helps out a lot defensively as well.”
In closing, Suances admitted that Cordoba can look physically inferior to his competition but that he has learned to not let that stop him. The 20-year-old has always competed in higher age brackets at Lezama and his former coach believes that he became a complete footballer while at Bilbao Athletic.
“It is important for him to get minutes to continue developing in this next stage. The one who knows him best is Kuko and he has decided to take him into the preseason. I think he has a lot of options to continue growing and could be with the first team. He is a hardworking and noble footballer. Just looking at him you may not see a great physical presence, but he is reliable and more than he seems. The first thing he needs to play at this level is to strengthen himself. He was always ahead of his age group. In his first year at the Juvenil level he played at the top team. He has always been improving physically because he needed to against his competition. At Bilbao Athletic he became a complete footballer.”
If Athletic does not sign Alex Berenguer this summer then it will give Inigo Cordoba a great chance to make the first team squad. The team is in need of strength at left wing and have been wanting a left-footed player for a few years. Cuco Ziganda knows Cordoba better than anyone and he will now give the Lezama product the chance to make his case during preseason training. If Cordoba isn’t able to secure a role in the team then he will likely be sent on loan somewhere in the Segunda or, perhaps, a newly promoted Primera club.