WIGAN Athletic have kicked-off their mid-season squad strengthening with the capture of Spanish centre-back Adrian Lopez.
The 23-year-old has finally put pen to paper at the DW after spending the last few months in a tug of war between Latics and his Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna that eventually required the intervention of FIFA to resolve.
Lopez’s contract with Depor ran out last summer but, because he was under the age of 23, his club believed they were entitled to renew it for a further 12 months under Spanish legislation.
Depor also slapped a one-and-a-half-million-euro price tag on his head, in recognition of the work they had put in during his youth development.
However, the player – who is also known as ‘Piscu’ – did not sign the contract and expressed a desire to leave for a new challenge in England.
Piscu hardened his stance by failing to turn up for pre-season training, and has been in limbo while the situation regarding his registration – which Depor held on to – was sorted out.
Thankfully, that has now been sorted, and Roberto Martinez could not contain his delight at landing one of the most coveted young players in Spain.
“Adrian has finally received his international clearance and will be available for Sunday’s game against Newcastle,” Martinez told the Evening Post.
“It’s been disappointing to have been made to wait this long, but the player made it very clear right from the beginning that he wanted to play for Wigan Athletic.
“Now FIFA have given us the green light for him to play for us, and it’s a massive positive to have another quality addition to the squad.”
Piscu has a tough task on his hands if he is to make an immediate impression, with club captain Gary Caldwell fit again after a quad injury and Antolin Alcaraz currently in top form. With Steven Caldwell, Maynor Figueroa and Steve Gohouri also on the scene, and Emmerson Boyce expected back for next weekend’s FA Cup trip to Hull, Martinez is not short of options at the back.
But the Wigan manager believes the player’s pedigree will stand him in good stead as he bids to make his mark in the Premier League.
“Adrian’s still a very young footballer but he’s already played for Spain Under-21s and at the highest level for Deportivo La Coruna against some very big teams,” he added.
“His record in Spain was very good, and he’ll bring something to our squad that hopefully we’ll be able to use from the word go.”
Despite FIFA coming down on the side of Latics, we may not have heard the last of this, with Depor president August Caesar Lendoiro insisting he’ll fight “to the last consequences” to secure the appropriate compensation.