The moment has finally arrived; Betis are Beñat-less. The little, bearded, Basque string-puller has returned to his spiritual home, Athletic Bilbao – the club who released him 4 years ago, deeming him not good enough. It has been on the cards for quite some time so it has come as no surprise to anyone who follows Spanish football.
Betis maybe could have recouped around €20 million last summer for Beñat, but have finally settled for something in the region of €8-10 million. Good business for Athletic? Yes, very much so. He is still only 26 and is on the fringes on an exceptional national team. However, I also think it is fairly good business from Betis. If we wouldn’t have kept hold of him for one more season then who is to say we would have made it into the Europa League?
It is true that season 2012-2013 was not as effectual as the season before, although he still scored 4 goals and assisted with 8, but Beñat has played his part majorly and now he has moved on to pastures new.
Beñat has a lot to be thankful to Betis for, but so do Betis to him. He made his debut for los verdiblancos at the start of the 2010/2011 season, helping them to regain promotion to the pinacle league of Spanish football. He has gained a reputation as the engine room of the team, with the ability to dictate player and with the visionary capabilities to split defences in two with a wave of his wand-like right boot. A proper footballer, which was recognised immediately by Pepe Mel, who transformed him into a integral player.
There have been lots of great moments. For me the greatest was Beñat’s dismantling of Sevilla in their backyard. Sevilla took the lead after six minutes through Alvaro Negredo. Beñat dragged Betis back into the contest in the 43rd minute thanks to a brilliantly struck freekick crashing in off the post. Up stepped Beñat again in the 93rd minute to nonchalantly slide a freekick under the wall and again crash in off the post. Here’s my match report at the time for Inside Spanish Football.
However, it does seems about the right time for Beñat to leave, especially after his inseparable amigo, Cañas, made tracks to Swansea a couple of weeks ago. Béticos will be forever grateful to Beñat and I’m sure he will get a terrific reception upon return to el estadio Benito Villamarín.