The sporting director explains how the club have survived six seasons in La Liga when their record signing is Edu Expósito for €4m
“OK,” Fran Garagarza says, “what have we got?” Quite a lot, as it turns out. Tuesday evening in Eibar and five men sit around a table in a smart new meeting room overlooking the pitch at Ipurúa, where heat lamps light up the gloom. A sixth joins on a screen. One by one, Mikel Martija, Arkaitz Lakanbra, Eneko Romo and Fran Rico run through the players they have been watching this week, a small sample of the 19,000 in the system. Conversation starts: a catalogue of qualities – “striker, very much our style” – and classification. Red, amber and green: stop watching, keep watching, move to the next phase.
Every now and then, Garagarza asks for some extra detail: a spelling, an age, an agent. As they go round, Unai Ezkurra enters everything into the system. Garagarza used to travel around in a van, delivering packages for a courier; now he travels to watch matches for a club – or did before the pandemic, remote tracking taking over since. He has been at Eibar for 16 years, as under-19 coach, assistant manager and academy director. For the past decade, he has been sporting director, overseeing one of the greatest success in Spanish football, a model of debt-free, sustainable overachievement.