Age no barrier for Aduriz

We love flash strikers who can dribble, go past players and used a dazzling array of skills. Athletic Bilbao’s Aritz Aduriz does none of that. But he can finish – and sometimes that's all you need in a striker.

Usually not one for spectacular goals, he proved he has a couple in his locker with two fine finishes in the Basque derby against Eibar. The first belied his hulking, statuesque figure as he hurled himself in the air to execute a thumping bicycle kick in acrobatic fashion. He doubled his tally with a similarly powerful strike, making light work of Mikel Balenziaga's cross to put Athletic out of sight with his 'weaker foot'.

Aduriz’s double on Sunday takes his tally to 25 goals in 34 games, which are crazy numbers for the big striker, as he sits one away from matching last year’s total.

As cliche as it is, Aduriz is very much like a fine wine in that he improves with age. He turns 35 next month but the striker has improved his goal output as the years have passed. Aduriz has scored an impressive 110 goals in three-and-a-half seasons since his return to the Basque country. 

Many strikers are on the scrap heap once they hit their 30s. But with the type player Aduriz is, one who doesn’t rely on his pace, his advanced years have given him time to fine-tune his art.

A striker in its purest form, his finishing and heading are imperious. Both were evident from the first match of the season, the Supercopa de Espana first leg, where he netted a superb hat-trick against champions Barcelona.

Mikel San Jose's spectacular long-range effort perhaps took some of the attention away from Adruiz's display but he was a wrecking ball against the Catalans, and a constant thorn in the side of Marc Bartra and Thomas Vermaelen on the night.

Even as new blood begins to work its way into the team, Aduriz is still very much the main man and heart of the side. Now in his third spell with Athletic, he has red and white coursing through his veins. And as the main man, the team supplies him every chance they get.

As his stellar form continues the inevitable question of international selection rears its head once again. Aduriz has made no secret of his desire to represent Spain, especially with Euro 2016 on the horizon, but remains pessimistic regarding his chances.

“Age is relative and can’t be generalised by a number to everyone,” he told Marca. “Although I’m very proud to contribute to Athletic, I’ve always aspired to reach the top and wanted to contest competitions at other levels. I’ve never spoken to [Vicente Del Bosque].”

He, along with Borja Baston, Lucas Perez and Jonathan Soriano are among the top Spanish scorers in Europe this season, but all only have a cap between them. It belongs to Aduriz and came in 2010 in a Euro 2012 qualifier against Lithuania. He played 15 minutes, and not a single minute since.

At 34 he won't be the future of Spain but they say if you're good enough, you're old enough. But conversely the same is true. If you're good enough, you're young enough.