It’s crunch time in La Liga as the transfer window nears its close; a final opportunity for Spanish clubs to fine-tune and finalise and their squads.
One piece of interesting business concluded on the window’s final day, was the arrival of midfielder Raúl Garcia to Athletic Bilbao from Atletico Madrid.
It may not sound like the most inspiring transfer, considering the league has been blessed with the exotic arrivals of Luis Suarez and James Rodriguez to name a couple in recent years.
However, this signing could prove to be a huge boost to Athletic, and likewise a huge loss to Atletico.
García’s physical style should suit Bilbao’s midfield. He is a solid technician in central areas but also has a knack of stealing into the opposition box and getting goals.
One of his main strengths is his heading ability, so from that perspective he has joined the perfect club. Bilbao like to deliver crosses for the likes of Aduriz, and with Raúl García making late runs in support, they have a player who can support the other attacking players Bilbao have at their disposal.
One does wonder whether this was a huge mistake from Atletico’s point of view. They will surely miss Garcia’s presence in midfield, and although they have tricky wingers such as Antoine Griezmann and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, they shouldn’t underestimate the importance of players that can maintain the shape of the team and bully opposition midfielders. García is certainly one of those players.
García returns to the north of Spain where he previously has represented Osasuna, one of Athletic Bilbao’s rivals.
Despite this, Bilbao fans will surely be able to put the past behind them, not least because they have made a very shrewd signing.
García joins a Bilbao side that have shown potential already this season, marked by a stunning display to blow away Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final, winning 5-1 on aggregate.
The league season on the other hand has started poorly. The Basques suffered an opening day loss to Barcelona and were then swept aside by Eibar leaving them without a point after the opening two fixtures.
Therefore, one can understand Ernesto Valverde’s need to make an influential signing, and García certainly fits that description.