«I play it on the toe a lot. “I saw it clearly and I shot.” With the same naturalness with which Miguel Gutiérrez explained his goal against Barcelona in Montjuïc, Girona has once again placed itself at the top of the First Division after having already played against Real Madrid and against Barcelona and having beaten the Blaugrana in their stadium. A team that has spent just over 22 million euros on signings this season and is only playing its fourth season in the top category of Spanish football.
Girona has the support of the City Group structure, the sports corporation that belongs to Manchester City, but it has the knowledge and intuition of a former club player, Quique Cárcel, in sports management. He is the one who asks City Group for the players he is interested in and who never arrive imposed by the corporation. This is how Yangel Herrera, who is now owned by Girona, arrived for the first time. And so important footballers have arrived for the entity, such as Savinho, who belongs to Troyes, from the French Second Division. But he also signs players who have nothing to do with the current European champion.
This year, Girona brought in Daley Blind, who was free. A player with a long career that has taken him through Ajax, Manchester United and Bayern Munich before landing at the current leader of the First Division. But few footballers have had the impact on the team of the two Ukrainians, Tsygankov and Dovbyk.
Tsygankov was the first to arrive. When he scored the only goal for his national team in the victory against Spain in October 2020, he did not imagine that two years later his country would be suffering the invasion of Russia and that he would have to find a life in Spain. Girona acquired half of his rights for only 5 million euros, when his valuation according to transfermarkt, the website specialized in the football market, reached 22 million.
Something similar has happened with Dobvyk. Girona paid close to eight million for 75 percent of its rights to Dnipro. Tsygankov’s experience at the club encouraged him and no one has any regrets until now. He has scored the same goals as Lewandowski in the League and is a fundamental part of Girona’s success.
The president, Delfí Geli, has transferred to the team the capacity for reinvention that took him from being one of the most promising forwards in the Barcelona youth team to being the right back for Atleti in the double with Antic and for Alavés who reached the UEFA Cup final. Because Blind is not the only footballer who has redirected his career at Montilivi. Portu returned this summer after his discreet time at Real and Getafe. He was a romantic signing who has not yet recovered the level of his first era, but others have come out on top with Míchel and with Girona. The best example is Aleix García, the captain. He was lost in the Romanian League a few years ago and last month he debuted with the Spanish team.
But there is more. His midfield partner, Iván Martín, has gone around many times in recent years without managing to settle anywhere. Raised in the Villarreal youth academy, he went through Mirandés and Alavés – where he only played eight games – before becoming one of the revelation players of the League. With Villarreal’s first team he only played seven minutes in a Cup match against Espanyol. Now Villarreal is thirteenth, 25 points behind Girona.
“I couldn’t imagine being like this when I arrived this summer,” acknowledged Eric García after the victory against the team that still owns his rights, Barcelona. Nor has his performance in recent years been as high as what he offers at Girona. In Montjuïc he was one of the highlights. He was not affected by the fear clause that they imposed on Pablo Torre. Barcelona’s need to get rid of salaries on the verge of the market closing freed it from that condition.
But the key to everything is Míchel. “The team has soul and the players are in a situation where they believe we can hurt the rival,” he explains.
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