Iñigo Lekue has made earned his place in the Athletic Club squad by being versatile. Not only can he play at either fullback position, he can also feature as a winger on the right or left of the attack. He is just one of the many players hoping to have an increased role under new manager Cuco Ziganda and on Tuesday he spoke to the media following the latest training session. He said that he wants to continue growing as a player and that he believes being versatile can earn him more playing time.
“I have always said that versatility is a good thing for me and for the team. I have not talked to Kuko about my role, but we know each other well because of the two years at Bilbao Athletic. He knows that I can adapt to different positions depending on the needs of the team. I hope to play a leading role this season and continue to grow as I have done so far. It will depend on the coach. I will try to do my best, as I have until now, to play as much as I can and help the team. If I have to do it off the bench then I will and if I have to do it as a starter, I can do that too.”
Lekue also pointed out the fact that there is a lot of competition in the Athletic squad. He knows that it makes everyone better in the long run. He also believes that Kuko Ziganda is the perfect man to be the new manager and thinks the club will be very successful under him.
“Competition makes us better. For me, I need to improve defensively. I think improving would make me a better player and help me play more. I want to keep the essence that I have. Kuko becoming the coach isn’t just good for him, but for all. He gives us a push. He is a coach who is good for us, who knows the style, the club, and we are sure to do great things together. I see the team intense, pressing, helping each other, and happy. We have been able to add to the attack too.”
In closing, the 24-year-old looked ahead to Thursday’s game against Dinamo Bucuresti saying that there is no favorite. The Romanians are a very strong team and Lekue says that the Lions will have to be at their very best if they are to take a good result back to the San Mames.
“As a collective it is good to set up short-term goals and this first qualifying round of the Europa League is that for us. It is a very important game for us and we have to give 100% to advance. We can’t say that we are favorites because there are many things playing against us. We know that they are an intense team that can tighten things high up the pitch. They like playing with three centrally and two out wide. It is anecdotal to return to where we lost the 2012 final, so we hope to get a positive result this time. Dinamo is a very strong team so we must be ready.”
Cuco Ziganda has already named his squad for the trip to Romania. Twenty players in total will make the flight, but a few surprising names will stay home. Kike Sola and Asier Villalibre will remain in Bilbao along with winger Iñaki Williams who just recently returned from vacation. Additionally, Unai Lopez, Unai Nunez, and Enric Saborit will out as well. Ander Iturraspe will also not be able to play due to suspension. Regardless, Ziganda will still be able to field a very strong lineup and fans are already impatiently waiting for Thursday to finally arrive.