Asier Villalibre is being one of the proper names in Athletic’s preseason. The Gernikarra signed a brace in the last friendly played in Anduva that places him as the team’s top scorer in these preparation matches (four goals). Although he did not participate excessively, those two goals show that he is in a good moment of confidence, something that he greatly needed after living through a difficult season in which physical problems punished him harshly.
El Bfalo is a pure striker, one of those more related to the auction than to the association. Even so, he is a player who has enough resources to be productive away from the box. Something that could be seen in the match against Bochum, in which he contributed to the group with his support, breaks and drags. Villalibre manages well with his back to the goal, making use of his physical size to withstand the defender’s shock and unload a teammate in a few touches, or even turn to overcome the rival. In addition, he is powerful in the race to offer alternatives to space.
In these friendlies he has been demonstrating an unusual level of effectiveness. Against Bochum, Mainz and Mirands he shot a total of five times and four of them ended in goal. Some unsustainable numbers, even for the best attackers in the world. That is why, in order to improve, he must reflect in other aspects that high level of self-esteem that comes from his relationship with the goal. There is no need to choose between being a striker and contributing to the game, Villalibre is capable of doing both and his options to become Athletic’s nine go through there.
“We want him to participate in the attacking game and in the pressure. Of course we ask for more. It’s not just a matter of scoring, but of participating in the game” Valverde launched after the victory against Mirands. With two more tests to go, Villalibre has positioned himself as a serious contender to appear in the starting eleven of the league debut against Mallorca If he takes that last step forward that the coach demands of him, it is most likely that Buffalo will earn his place as a starter in that appointment.