Profiles - Adrian

ADRIAN LOPEZ ALVAREZ
Squad number 10/11: 10
Date of Birth: 8 January 1988
Place of Birth: Teverga, Asturias
Nationality: Spain
Contract: 2006 - 2011
Transfer: 165.000 Euros (2006, from Oviedo) (Oviedo will receive 5% from a future sale)
Career: Málaga (2008-2009, loan), Alavés (2008, loan), Deportivo (2006-2007), Real Oviedo (2004-2006)
Buy-out Clause: ?
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 71 kg
Position: Attacker (central)


ADRIAN is one of Deportivo’s biggest talents, though his progress was halted as he had to play loaned at other clubs in order to get minutes. He was a surprise signing in the summer of 2006 when new arrival Bodipo got injured, and 19-year old Adrián made a lasting impressing against FC Barcelona at the Nou Camp. But during Lotina’s second season at Depor there was no room for the Asturian attacker, reason why he was loaned to Malaga. Later he returned and is now trying to make a name at the Galician club.

Asturias is a Spanish region known for having brought up much talented players like Luís Enrique, David Villa, Abelardo, Maceda and Manjarín (ex-Deportivo). Adrián can follow their footsteps if he continues the development which he experienced during the past two years. He arrived at Real Oviedo coming from the youth system of Covadonga and played in the Liga Nacional and División de Honor. From Oviedo B he made a jump into Oviedo’s first squad during his first year at the club and during the season 2005/2006 he scored three goals in twenty-six matches playing at Segunda B. These numbers, at that level, didn’t seem to indicate that fast Adrián is talented as was said. But in 2005 it were Real Madrid who tried to sign him for their B-team Real Madrid Castilla. Back then, Oviedo might have laughed at the offer of €18.000. One year later Lendoiro appeared. He started negotiations with Oviedo but no agreement was reached, despite Depor’s offer of €250.000. Oviedo simply didn’t want to sell while Betis Sevilla was also interested.

Depor’s initial idea was to hire him for Deportivo B as a youth player, but the only opportunity to sign Adrián arrived on the last day of the summer market of 2006: with Bodipo’s injury an opportunity in the first squad was opened. Adrián didn’t have a professional contract at Oviedo because he was a youth player. The only way to get him was to offer him a professional contract. And that was what Deportivo did. The player himself was not only attracted by the money and Depor’s status, but for an important part by the presence of coach Caparrós. Oviedo protested at the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) because they were convinced that the player still belonged to them. A case was born. In October 2006 it was decided that Adrián was a Deportivo player and Depor was ordered to pay Oviedo a compensation for €330.000.

Adrián made his debut at Deportivo on 25 October 2006 against Racing de Santander for the Copa Del Rey. This was quickly followed with Liga entries against Getafe and Barcelona. On November 12 he started his first Liga match when Deportivo visited Gimnástic, game in which the Galicians probably used their youngest offensive line since promotion to the highest level in 1991. This line consisted of Verdú (23), Cristian (23), Adrián (18) and Arizmendi (22). Unfortunately, the match finished 0-0 and Riki replaced Adrián during half-time. Adrián had done a good job, but Deportivo’s attacking line seemed inexistent and Caparrós had to do something. After it, Adrián was given more than a dozen of Liga entries, most of them as a substitute. His first goal, in Copa Del Rey, came on January 10th 2007 when at Mallorca the way was paved towards the Quarter Finals (1-2).

Deportivo wanted him to have more minutes though. And that was difficult in La Coruña. The years of strikers like Makaay, Tristán, Luque and Pandiani were over. But Arizmendi became a Spanish international player those weeks and there also was expensive signing Riki (from Getafe). Besides, Taborda returned from his injury and Bodipo was close to his recovery. To fill up possible gaps if Adrián was loaned out, Deportivo B striker Rubén Rivera was considered. Also, the Galicians wanted to have young striker Xisco back from his loan deal at Vecindario and offered Adrián (together with Iago) in return. That deal collapsed though. First of all, because Vecindario’s board was satisfied with Xisco’s presence. Next, Adrián and his agent considered the best for Adrián was to stay and learn at Deportivo instead going to the island. “My objective is to learn because I’m still young”, Adrián commented. “And I think here I can learn much more here”. It caused a row between Lendoiro and Adrián’s agent and left Caparrós unsatisfied.

His finest moment of the season 2006/2007 arrived when on March 31st 2007 he entered Depor’s Liga match in the Nou Camp in the 61st minute. The Catalans were leading 2-0 by then, but ended up wasting time and asking the referee to finish the match. Why? Mainly because of Adrián. His goal, just seven minutes after he came on, was pure class based on speed and a fine touch. He caused havoc in Barça’s defence, but neither could he snatch a point for the Galicians. Adrián said that he was happy with his first goal at Primera but he left the stadium with a bittersweet taste in his mouth: “I’m happy with the goal, but not with the final result. We did a good job, especially in the first half, but Barcelona’s first goal was crucial and hurt us. But we showed courage during ninety minutes”. Adrián was the talk of the town, and said that he had exchanged shirts with Puyol. “For me he’s one of the best defenders in the world and it was a great opportunity for me”. But he also kept both feet on the ground: “I will try to become the striker that the fans want to see. But I still have a lot to learn and everyday I do the best I can”. Caparrós protected him, “He is gaining confidence and let’s see how he does in the next week. Now it’s important to leave him alone because the boy doesn’t need to be in the spotlights. I particularly liked his statement after the match, that’s his first thought after his goal was to grab the ball as a draw was still a real possibility”.

Adrián had his opportunities after the Barcelona match as he started against Gimnástic, Celta de Vigo, Osasuna Pamplona and Recreativo Huelva and against Sevilla in Copa del Rey (Adrián missed the return match because his grandfather had died). The problem was that the Deportivo squad was quite safe from relegation and bigger targets weren’t possibly anymore. Several players had a difficult relation with coach Caparrós, and the results of the final weeks were horrible. It was not realistic to expect from 19-year old Adrián to fix the mistakes, and he didn’t. Adrián tried what he could, but in most of these matches was quite isolated. In the mean time, Oviedo and Deportivo altered the terms of the verdict about Adrián and agreed on a €165.000 transfer sum and Oviedo will receive 5% if Adrián is sold by the Galicians. When the season ended, Adrián said that he was satisfied with his personal situation, “I’m satisfied with the minutes I’ve played and the important thing now is to keep progressing”.

Another highlight would be the FIFA U-20 World Cup that was played in July in Canada. Adrián qualified with the Spanish U-19 team for the annual UEFA U-19 European Football Championship and was picked for the U-20 team together with Barragán. His rivals for a striking spot were Valencia’s Mata and Alberto Bueno from Real Madrid Castilla. Both of them started the match against Uruguay, but national coach Ginés Meléndez needed a goal of substitute Adrián and an injury-time equalizer of Sevilla’s Capel to secure a draw. Adrián started in the second group match, against Zambia, but didn’t score during the 2-1 victory. Spain, with Adrián as a starter, secured a pass to the next round against Jordan with a pure hat-trick of Adrián in the pace of nine minutes (a record in Spain’s history). In the next round, Spain met Brazil and once again was 0-2 down. Adrián had started the match and Spain equalized, while goals of Bueno and Adrián secured a 4-2 in extra-time. Unfortunately, Spain and the Czech Republic both scored a goal in extra-time and this Quarter Finals went to penalties. During normal time, Adrián had missed a big opportunity and he was replaced by Bueno. Spain lost on penalties and was eliminated. Argentina won the tournament and Agüero became top scorer with six goals, followed by Adrián with five goals.

The tournament increased the status of Adrián. Lotina mentioned that the player had “evolved” and that he wasn’t looking for a new striker. Adrián himself returned to La Coruña two weeks after Spain was eliminated and regretted Spain’s exit, “We were better than the Czech Republic, but it couldn’t been”. He was asked about the enormous chance that he missed after eighty minutes, and he admitted that he still felt bad for it. “But football is like this and one can’t always have success. For me it was difficult because it was me who failed. Despite this, we played well and deserved to win. We generated most opportunities, but lost in the penalties”. The striker was one of the most popular players in an online voting system of FIFA, but he said that “this shouldn’t affect me. I am happy with my performance and it permits me to grow, but I am still the same person. I still have to learn a lot”. Adrián also was asked about other Asturian players (Manu, Jairo, Pablo Álvarez) at the squad of Deportivo: “It’s always nice to have people from your own region. Pablo already was here last year and I know Manu and Jairo. I’m happy that they’ve come”. Lotina became to know Adrián as a player who “possesses goal scoring abilities and is fast. He can make short manoeuvres in the area and always thinks about scoring. Such players are born to decide matches”. Cádiz was related to him before the tournament, and now Mallorca appeared in the press with an €3 million which Lendoiro rejected.

Adrián had only four weeks to prove himself, but Lotina quickly admitted that “we count on him for next season. But he needs to have a different pace”. Adrián had to get minutes quickly, and he started to play against quality opponents like Racing de Ferrol (Segunda A) and Lugo (Segunda B). The entrance of Lafita, Adrián and Guardado turned the match at Ferrol around (a 1-2 win) as the Mexican and Adrián scored a goal. Two days later, Adrián started next to Riki in Lotina’s 4-4-2 system and scored both goals at Lugo (a 0-2 win). Ten days after the Lugo match, Adrián (wearing number twelve on his shirt) was the preferred choice of Lotina to start (with Riki) against Almeria in the first Liga match of the season 2007/2008. But this went completely wrong. Five minutes after the break, Almeria was 0-3 up and Lotina brought Taborda for a disappeared Adrián. It’s not that it was Adrián’s fault, as Deportivo’s midfield was non-existent with Riki and Adrián being isolated upfront. Adrián said about this match, “It’s evident that Almeria was the better team and it’s a shame for us to start the season in this way. I feel sorry for the fans and don’t know what happened. We can’t fool anyone with what we showed on the pitch. Almeria simply didn’t give us a chance”.

The Almeria’s defeat had its consequences for Adrián. Lotina didn’t use him in the next four matches although it was rumoured that Adrián was going to start Deportivo’s third match of the season against Betis Sevilla. Before that encounter, Lotina reached headlines in the news when he called Adrián “the white Ronaldo, in both the good ways and the bad. He is a player of tremendous quality; in one-on-one situations he's excellent, and he is in phenomenal condition. However, in the future he needs to press harder and deploy himself better on the pitch. It’s not that he doesn’t work hard, but he needs to have another approach. In any case, he has great potential, and if he's near the opposite goal he moves very intelligently to get into space. He will become a great player, and only he himself will define at what level”.

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