Big, Strong, Loves A Tackle: Fernando Amorebieta Can Be Arsenal's Next Adams
If a year is a long time in Politics, then it is even longer in Football. Take a look at Club Athletic de Bilbao central defender Fernando Amorebieta. Back in January last year the player, who was born in Venezuela but moved to the north of Spain at the age of two, expressed his desire to represent his homeland, even though he had played for Spanish youth teams and was called up by Vicente Del Bosque once. In an interview he said of his desire to represent the country of his birth and also to extend his contract with Athletic. A year later he is one of Europe’s most sought out defenders and is keen on a move.
‘I want to renew my contract, that’s very important. I feel valued and have spent many years at Athletic and I want to continue here’ said Fernando just 12 months ago. A few weeks later he was part of the side that would stun Manchester United, dazzle fans and make their way to the Europa League and Copa del Rey final. Then the wheels came off and Athletic lost both finals, coach Marcelo Bielsa punched a builder and key players left. From wanting a contract, the Venezuelan rejected a deal and also changed his agent. His new agent is now insisting that his client wants to play in England and has even turned down a lucrative move to Russia to pursue his dream. He has also claimed that his client is in talks with Arsenal. A move that could be good for both.
Apart from occasionally wearing one of those silly nose things, Amorebieta is a no-nonsense, huge bulk of a man. Just under two metres, he turns 28 in March and is available for free. He can put in a tackle and never shirks his responsibilities. Rumour has it that he was speaking to Liverpool in the summer, but a move failed to materialise. Barca are also said to be interested with Spanish papers reporting that enquiries have been made. Now Arsene Wenger is interested and one can see why, but with Laurent Koscielny and Tomas Vermaelen possibly starting in front of him, one wonders would the player be interested in coming to sit on the bench. Or has Wenger other plans?
In the air he is unbeatable and he is a rock at the back, but his discipline has been an issue. A few years ago Arsenal had an issue with that with the likes of Vieira et co. on the receiving end of many a red card and that lack of discipline brought one thing: trophies. For a long time Arsenal have been bullied off the ball and the expression that they ‘don’t like it up them’ has been said for the past few years. Well, Amorebieta is one player who is not shy. He has been sent off more than 10 times and has the worst discipline record of Athletic’s history. Although some may say that this is something that may worry Wenger, it may be something that will intrigue him and fans. After a host of displays this season in which the Gunners have shown little or no heart, someone like Fernando will quickly become a crowd favourite.
There are some issues that will need to be addressed. The first is obviously the language barrier, but should Arsenal strike a deal quickly; he could start English classes soon. Another is that his distribution is somewhat limited. Athletic know that and they have the perfect solution - Bielsa employs someone to sit just in front of the defence and their job is to take the ball from Amorebieta and move it on. Right now Arsenal don’t really have anybody in that role and should they not sign or assign someone what we could end up seeing is Fernando pinging the ball out of defence into the path of opposition players. Another negative aspect is the fact that he represents Venezuela and when called up for international duty, he may end up travelling thousands and thousands of miles.
After last night’s debacle in the Champions League, the case to sign Amorebieta has grown stronger. The doubt that he may struggle to get into the side has grown fainter and the fact that he won’t demand a high wage is another positive tick in his box. Arsenal need steel. They have lacked that since the days of Adams, Bould and Vieira. Maybe they may have found someone who can bring back those glory days.