The high level of competition in Girona’s first team led to the transfer of the 21-year-old Valais central from the subsidiary to Belgium, a training club of the City Football Group that plays in the Second Division.
How’s it going in Belgium?
Very good, I’m very happy. The truth is that I didn’t expect to be so comfortable there because for me, who had always been in Catalonia, it was an important change. When they told me that there was a possibility to go outside, I was a little afraid at first, but they have welcomed me very well.
How was the assignment triggered? Because it was clear that with the non-promotion of the subsidiary, the 3rd Federation was left small.
I did pre-season with the first team and I honestly think I had some good performances. There were doubts about whether or not I would stay this season, but in the end it was decided that the best option for me was a transfer because I might not have had many minutes in the First Division. I was a bit nervous until the transfer to Lommel was finalized in the last days of the market. Between all of us – Girona’s sports management and my agents – we thought it was the ideal place to continue growing. I think we all got it right.
Did you have any reference from Lommel SK before going there?
I knew the City Football Group had several clubs, but I didn’t know Lommel. When I was told that there was the offer from Belgium, I did a little research. Just seeing that City was in the middle, it was clear that they had to do things right. I was pleasantly surprised. Apart from the fact that it is a club with history because many years ago it was in the Belgian First Division and now, even if most of the players in the squad are young people in training, our goal is to go up.
He did the pre-season with the first team, but with Santi Bueno, Juanpe, Bernardo and the arrivals of David López and Javi Hernández there must have been a lot of competition.
They are all great players. Some of them I have as references because when I was in the subsidiary I looked at them and wished to play like them one day. Most of them had experience in the First Division and I knew that if I stayed, it would be difficult for me because there was a lot of competition. I am a person who has a lot of confidence in myself and I think I can reach the level to compete in the First Division. This year I am trying to return to Girona as best as possible.
“I would certainly have had an immediate performance, but it could also be that he stayed with two specific matches in the First Division”
With the casualty situation that exists at the moment in the axis of the defense, do you think much about what would have happened if he had stayed?
I saw that there are quite a few. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to be in the first team to make my debut in the Primera División wearing the Girona shirt, it’s a dream I’ve had since I was very young, but I also think it wasn’t the time. Quique Cárcel and Albert Síria insisted on looking at the mid-term: I would certainly have had an immediate performance because Míchel trusted me, but it could also be that everything remained with two specific matches in the First Division and that would be enough. Instead, this way I can grow and improve for when I come back as a more mature player with a place in the first team. I always keep an eye on what happens to Girona, I watch all the games from Belgium and I focus on both the classification and the opponents, although right now I am one hundred percent focused on Lommel.
Before leaving on loan, he renewed until 2025. His future must go through Girona, yes or no.
The club has taken care of me since day one, I’m very happy there. I can’t complain about anything. My dream is to reach the first team and consolidate myself under Míchel.
What do you think of Lommel SK? City Football Group bought it in 2020 to turn it into a training team.
We are a very young team with very exciting players from across the clubs that are owned by the City Football Group. The Lommel would act as a bridge to reach the elite, but that does not take away from the fact that the goal is also to make him big so that one day he returns to the Belgian First Division. Apart from teaching us football, they care about training us outside: we give English lessons, they support those of us who live alone, etc. I think it’s an experience that will make me mature a lot both on and off the field because I’m picking up very good habits.
Physically he has made a significant change. Do you get it a lot with the diet?
When I arrived, I realized that physicality was very important in this league. All teams are very well equipped. The work we do takes this into account because, for example, on a daily basis we all have lunch together and when we finish we go to the gym. I had never done it before and it surprised me, really.
The manager, Steve Bould, has him playing at full-back and is also testing him on the opposite leg. In which position do you feel most comfortable?
Central because that’s where I’ve always played and I think I can have more projection professionally, but the manager already told me on the first day that he was a very versatile player and that I would certainly adapt to any position in the defense. He made me play central, right back and left back with a different leg. I’ve never played full-back, but Steve has told me that I’m a very important player for him and that I can help the team in any way I can. He’ll have me for whatever it takes.
The team chains four consecutive victories. What goal are you aiming for this season?
We are very ambitious players and we talked in the dressing room that our goal is to try to move up a category. While the goal of the club I think is the training of players to reach the elite and that this must lead to results to achieve promotion.
Do you think he may have opened the way for more transfers from Girona to Lommel SK?
The day I return to Girona and they ask me how I am, I will tell them that I recommend Lommel one hundred percent. It’s a club that has a very good personal relationship with the players, there are many workers depending on you and that focuses on training you as a player and as a person. It’s the right place to grow up. I was surprised. I know I still have things to change, because I’m young, but my habits and maturity have changed a lot since coming to Belgium.
“Granell teaches me many things and can help me because of his experience as a Girona player”
In the team coincides with Àlex Granell. They didn’t get to match in the first team, but does he give him much advice?
I knew who he was, Àlex has been a very important person at Girona. We didn’t get along, but he was still the first person who came to talk to me when I arrived in Belgium. He showed up before I landed and all to tell me he was there for whatever I needed. We have a very good relationship, he teaches me a lot and he can help me a lot because of his experience as a Girona player. It is a great support for Lommel.
Do you keep in touch with Girona?
Yes. From time to time I have meetings with enQuique and Albert to find out how I’m doing, although they get reports of everything from Lommel with video cuts and training to keep a check. And I also talk to players from the subsidiary or the first team such as Arnau, Ramon or Valery.
Surely Óscar Ureña will leave for Zaragoza. Do you think that not getting promotion with the subsidiary last season hurt them to grow, in this sense?
If Óscar ends up leaving, I think it will be good to look for minutes outside, going forward. I think that the subsidiary is in a category that does not belong to it because there is a lot of level and having it in Tercera RFEF it is difficult for the players to continue there. The jump from Third to First is very difficult. Therefore, the best option for many of the players we want to reach the first team is to go out and play in higher divisions.