After Spanish utility Javi López agreed to join Adelaide United ahead of the A-League 2020/21 season, here is everything you need to know about our latest signing.
The 34-year-old arrives on a one-year deal and boasts an abundance of experience having played more than 250 La Liga games with RCD Espanyol between 2009 and 2020, and served as captain for the last five seasons.
A technical and versatile player, López has spent the majority of his career as a right-back but can also operate as a defensive midfielder, centre-back and has even featured on the wing.
López is also a superb reader of the game, renowned for his strong tackling and ability to make interceptions, breaking up attacks.
Javier ‘Javi’ López Rodríguez was born on January 21, 1986 in the small town of Osuna about 90km east of Seville.
López is a product of Real Betis’ youth teams after spending his formative years with Los Verdiblancos, representing the C and B sides before joining Espanyol B in 2007.
He would spend the next three years in the Catalonian club’s reserves but did make his La Liga debut in October 2009 away to Villarreal CF in a brief substitute appearance by coach Mauricio Pochettino.
The Spaniard was promoted to the first-team for the 2010/11 campaign by the Argentine tactician and recorded a combined 27 matches across both the league and Copa del Rey as Los Periquitos finished eighth on the table – their highest position since the 2004/05 iteration.
Following his debut season, López featured regularly for Espanyol from 2011 to 2016, averaging 30 league games a season.
He scored his first top-flight goal in September 2011 but it occurred in a 2-1 defeat to Real Zaragoza. A year later, López scored his second and final La Liga goal of his career when he opened the deadlock in a 3-3 draw with Athletic Bilbao.
During the 2013/14 season the then 28-year-old encountered the unique experience of playing as a goalkeeper in the Catalan derby against FC Barcelona. Kiko Casilla was dismissed and with Mexican boss, Javier Aguirre, already using all his permitted substitutes, López put on the gloves for the final stages of the match.
López helped Espanyol reach the semi-finals in the 2014/15 Copa del Rey which comprised of aggregate wins over Valencia CF and Sevilla, before exiting to Bilbao.
He took over the captaincy at the beginning of the 2015/16 campaign from fellow countryman, Sergio García, following the forward’s departure.
Despite injuries impacting his 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons, the defender was still an influential presence in the dressing room.
He featured in 23 league games in his penultimate campaign with the side as they claimed seventh spot and a Europa League berth.
His final season ended in disappointment with Espanyol relegated for the first time in 27 years. However, they managed to top their Europa League group before bowing out in the Round of 32 against Wolves.
López played with some elite footballers in more than a decade plying his trade in the seaside city, while competing against the best players in the world such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Consequently, his capture further highlights the quality and pedigree he will offer the Reds.
López got to call the likes of incumbent Real Madrid pair Marco Asensio and Lucas Vázquez as teammates, in addition to Portuguese sensation Simão Sabrosa and current Benfica midfielder Pizzi.
Other notable teammates include: Spaniards, Esteban Granero and Gerard Moreno, Mexico centre-back, Héctor Moreno, and Lazio and former Ecuador striker, Felipe Caicedo.
López terminated his contract with Espanyol following the team’s relegation in search of a new challenge. A discussion with close friend and former teammate and Reds legend, Isaías, convinced him to join Adelaide and will now become the sixth Spanish player to represent the Club.