Unai Lopez is an extremely skilful 17-year-old, a jewel in the Athletic Bilbao talent system, one of the most reliable regions in Spain when it comes to producing top notch talent in the world of professional football.
Considering the expansive scouting networks of most Premier League clubs in Spain, it’s no surprise that his name has popped up in connection with several of the big Premier League clubs just before the transfer window opens.
However, there’s a very good reason it could be quite difficult for the sides interested in him to get access to the teenager and it’s the same reason he reportedly turned down a move to Barcelona.
Liverpool were linked with him by the Liverpool Echo, with further reports linking Arsenal and Chelsea with the player.
“I got several offers and I decided to go to Athletic. I liked Barcelona’s offer, but it scared me a little to go so far away from my family,” he’s quoted as saying.
It feels a bit like the whole Jesus Navas story, before he decided to face his fear of leaving home to join Manchester City.
Lopez seems to have the same issues as Navas in the respect that he doesn’t want to leave the area he’s grown up in, been raised in and knows inside out.
He’s comfortable in Bilbao and if Barcelona can’t make him move, which offers him the chance to stay in his own country, then it’s doubtful he’ll be considering a switch to England any time soon.
It’s understandable because he’s such a young man and we obviously have no idea over his family situation.
It may not be straight forward for him to come to England in the same way Cesc Fabregas did when he was 16-years-old because he may not have the same levels of family support available.
What the sides interested in him could do is offer to provide that support for him or lay on the chance for his family to follow him to England.
Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea are certainly all in the position where they could do just that but you have to seriously question his ambition if he chose not to go to Barcelona.
He’s just going to keep on being linked with moves away from his current club in the same way Navas was before he agreed to move to England because his record of nine goals in 22 games for Bilbao’s youth team last season is handy.
It may also be possible that he’s got so used to playing and living in Bilbao, he doesn’t want to risk his future with a move to a massive club which may not mean he has the chance to nail down a place in the senior squad of that team.
What do you make of him? Do you think English clubs would be wasting their time trying to get him?
image: © birasuegi