Defensive reinforcements are coming for New York City FC, who announced on Tuesday the acquisition of longtime Athletic Bilbao defender Andoni Iraola on a free transfer and Manchester City youth product Jose Angel Tasende, known as Angelino, on loan for the remainder of 2015.
Iraola, 32, made 510 appearances (406 league) and scored 38 goals for Bilbao over the past 12 seasons. Angelino, an 18-year-old Spain youth international left back, is a member of the Manchester City FC Elite Development Squad.
Both will be eligible for selection following the opening of the MLS transfer window on July 8, Iraola pending receipt of his P1 Visa and a physical and Angelino awaiting his International Transfer Certificate and P1 Visa.
“I have only played for one club throughout my whole career and I knew after leaving Bilbao my first choice was always to play in the US and in New York,” Iraola said in a statement released by the club. “It’s a very exciting opportunity for me to join New York City FC in our inaugural season. This is a team with huge potential, passionate supporters, and I really wanted to be part of it.
“For me it will be very nice playing with David Villa. We’ve crossed paths on the national team, we have played against each other many times but being able to play with him in the league and fight together is extra motivation for me.”
Though right back has been an issue at times for NYCFC, Iraola can play both on the backline or farther advanced. Most importantly, he provides an experienced, steadying presence to an expansion side that’s weathered a two-month winless streak already this season.
“I think it’s fantastic to be able to add a player with that much experience and quality at a critical time of the season,” New York City FC head coach Jason Kreis said. “We are adding a versatile player like Andoni who is comfortable playing in a number of different positions within the team. We are adding a great professional and a very experienced player.”
“He’s not going to wear the captain’s armband,” sporting director Claudio Reyna said, “but essentially we’re adding another captain to the team.”
Angelino’s career, meanwhile, is just getting started and he joins fellow defender Shay Facey on loan to NYCFC from sister club Manchester City.
“I’m very happy for the opportunity that Manchester City and New York City FC have given me. To be able to play in New York is a great opportunity for me and I am eager to get started. I can’t wait to get to New York and join my new teammates,” Angelino said. “I know Shay Facey is doing really well for the team and loving the experience. The atmosphere at Yankee Stadium seems amazing so I’m really looking forward to playing in front of our supporters.
“Being able to train and play in a professional league like MLS, and learn from [head coach Jason Kreis] will help me develop further as a young player. I’m determined to make the most of my opportunity and give everything I can to help the team in our first season.”
Angelino, who chose Manchester City over Real Madrid and Barcelona in 2013, showcased his offensive prowess by scoring a hat trick for the EDS in a 4-2 win over Leicester City on April 7.
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It’s part of a range of skills Kreis saw during his stay in Manchester ahead of NYCFC’s expansion campaign.
“Angelino is a talented young player that I became very familiar with when I spent my five months over in Manchester,” Kreis said. “Immediately, he was somebody that I liked. I was impressed with his character, the way he trained and the effort he gave to the team on the pitch. I couldn’t be more pleased that we’ve been able to bring him into this squad.
“Angelino is very hungry to move forward in his career and has a fighting mentality that you want to see in a young professional. For a team that wants to play the way we do, he has all the attributes you’d want to see in an outside back. Defensively he’s very good in 1-v-1 battles but is also effective in getting forward and serving good balls into the box.”
Facey, the first NYCFC player to arrive on loan from Manchester City EDS, has played in eight games (six starts) with 583 minutes to his name.