It is the fourth most expensive signing in the centennial history of Athletic, but he takes it naturally. Alex Berenguer (Barañain, July 4, 1995) is clear that his thing is to train, play and score goals. Last Monday, by the way, he did two to Cádiz in Carranza. Both of beautiful workmanship. Occupational hazards. Shortly before starting the conversation, the second salary cut accepted by the rojiblanca squad since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Athletic has just announced that they have accepted the salary reduction that they were asking for.
In the end, we are at the club’s disposal for whatever it needs and, as we have seen, it is the second reduction we have made in less than ten months. In my case the first because I just arrived. The most important thing is that both parties go hand in hand.
Do you have the feeling that Athletic is a different club for everything?
We are a family, we are all in the same boat and in these difficult times, what a minimum there is to make a reduction that will help our club.
As soon as you feel integrated into Athletic?
Yes. From the first day I arrived they have treated me super well, like one more. They have taken care of me a lot, they have helped me in everything, in the adaptation … This is a great family. All super united and in the field everything is seen.
And he has even won a title!
Yes yes, in such a short time we have won a title … Since I arrived I have seen that this was a pineapple. That can be seen on a day-to-day basis.
Doesn’t the same thing happen in Osasuna?
A very similar style. Super familiar, super close, people help you in everything, on and off the field. Very happy to be here.
Why did you have an anti Athletic clause?
These are issues from the last contract in my transfer to Italy, something that has already happened. If it was anti Athletic, it wouldn’t be here.
The truth is that his name had been ringing in the Athletic orbit for many years.
Athletic’s interest in me had always been rumored, but in the end it was this year when I signed. I have come to work, to contribute as much as possible to reach the highest possible level.
How about the experience in Italy, by the way?
Very good. It suited me very well, it made me be more complete as a player than I was in Osasuna. I have gained in experience, I have learned many things from the defensive aspect and it has helped me a lot to improve as a footballer.
Athletic and Torino met in a Europa League tie a few years ago. What memory do they keep there of this club?
Above all, they remembered the stadium, ‘a spectacular stadium’. Luckily, I had already played here with Osasuna.
What differences do you see between Italian football and the one played here?
There football is much more tactical, more defensively disciplined. It costs more to score goals, there are not so many counterattack actions, it’s all more positional… It has helped me a lot to know how to play at first touches, because there in defense they are immediately pressuring you, and to guide me well. Now I am a more complete player but I also have many things to improve.
Is it true that in Italy more importance is given to the physical issue, to work in the gym?
Yes, the physical issue is carried a little more. More races, more gym and, above all, much more tactics.
Let’s go back to Athletic again. Gaizka Garitano, one of the strongest bet on his signing, is gone.
I spoke with him once and with Rafa in the last days of the market and everything is fine. We all already know what football life is like, that things change from one day to the next, and now we have Marcelino as coach, who trusts me a lot. I am working hard to earn a position.
He trusts you a lot, but you are having a hard time getting into the starting XI!
When a coach arrives, at the beginning, he does more or less what he sees or what he senses. My thing is to work hard to get into the starting eleven.
Do you put any downside to being made to play on the right wing?
All my life I have played on the left, but also in many other positions. I have played on the left, right, second striker, striker… I am at the coach’s command and where I put myself I will give the maximum.
Last Monday in Cádiz he not only gave his maximum, but also scored two good goals.
Everything is going smoothly, that is the dynamic to continue upwards.
What is appreciated with Marcelino is that both you and Muniain or anyone else who plays close to the band has the freedom to move inside, right?
Yes, because we leave a lot of space on the sides for them to shoot. It doesn’t bother me either to get inside a lot because in Italy, in the three years he was there, I was playing on the inside, as a midfielder. I am used to playing in those positions.
The two goals from Cádiz, at least that feeling gave when looking at the images, were they dedicated to someone?
To my girl, to Sofia. Both.
Doesn’t it weigh you down to be known as one of the most expensive signings in Athletic’s history?
It doesn’t weigh me down because I’ve come here to work, to do my best and help the team with goals, with assists. That’s what matters.
Well, goals already have a few!
Little by little I am getting. There are already five and, as I said, working hard to continue in the eleven and scoring more goals.
Do you notice the difference that things go wrong, as happened with Garitano, than that things go well, as now with Marcelino?
At the coach level, no. They are two different styles of coaches. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Now we are with Marcelino and we have to push hard