Athletic Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde joked “I hope Barcelona don’t sign Aritz Aduriz” after the striker’s hat-trick in Sunday’s 3-0 win at Rayo Vallecano.
The 34-year-old took his seasonal tally up to 16 with a treble at Vallecas, a performance which was slightly tainted by Aymeric Laporte’s red card, and the Coach conceded Los Leones risked losing their “gem” to the treble-winners if he continued his form in front of goal.
“I hope Barcelona don’t sign Aduriz!” he said after the game.
“He’s the culmination of our game or what we try.
“We’re very lucky to have, but there’s a problem, which is that he gets better with each passing year.
“He’s very confident in his ability, very efficient and, for us, he’s a gem.
“It’s a match we were wary of, given how Rayo play, their form at home and because we came from a demanding game.
“We were put under pressure early on, but from there we were fine. We had chances and pressed them.
“We were pretty good until Laporte’s red card because [Rayo] then made us suffer down our left.
“The red card seemed harsh and I don’t believe [his tackle] was deliberate.
“This win puts us back into a good dynamic and we’ll see if we can maintain it until the end of the year.”