Mikel Rico Moreno (Basque pronunciation: [mikel riko moɾeno]; Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmikel ˈriko moˈɾeno]; born 4 November 1984) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for Athletic Bilbao as a central midfielder.
Rico in 2018
|Full name||Mikel Rico Moreno|
|Date of birth||4 November 1984|
|Place of birth||Arrigorriaga, Spain|
|Height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|2005–2006||→ Conquense (loan)||35||(9)|
|2007–2008||→ Huesca (loan)||35||(6)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 24 April 2019|
After spending much of his career in Spain's lower divisions with Conquense, Polideportivo Ejido and Huesca, he achieved promotion to La Liga with Granada in 2011, moving to Athletic Bilbao two years later. Over eight seasons in the latter competition, he amassed totals of 200 matches and 15 goals.
Born in Arrigorriaga, Biscay, Rico was schooled in football at local clubs CD Padura and Danok Bat CF as a child. He then joined the ranks of neighbouring CD Basconia, which acted as a farm team of Athletic Bilbao; in April 2001 he appeared as a late substitute in one Tercera División match, where Joseba Arriaga and Andoni Iraola also featured.
Rico moved to UB Conquense in 2003. Most of the first season was spent in their reserves, but the second, also in Segunda División B, saw him feature regularly, attracting the attention of Polideportivo Ejido who signed him in 2005.
Rico was loaned back to Conquense for 2005–06, which ended in relegation from the third level. He made his debut as a professional with Ejido in the following campaign, making 20 league appearances before being loaned out again, to SD Huesca.
Huesca / GranadaEdit
In summer 2009, Rico was signed permanently by Huesca. On 19 June 2010, he scored one of his five goals during the campaign in a 1–0 away win against Celta de Vigo, being crucial as the Aragonese finally avoided relegation.
Rico joined fellow league side Granada CF on 31 August 2010, for €600,000 on a four-year deal. He posted similar individual numbers in his first year – 40 matches, two goals, nearly 3,500 minutes of action – and his team returned to La Liga after more than three decades via the play-offs; he displayed versatility in the process, featuring in several positions.
Rico made his debut in the top flight on 27 August 2011 at nearly 27 years of age, playing the full 90 minutes in a 0–1 derby home loss against Real Betis. He scored his first goal in the competition on 31 October, contributing to a 2–1 success at Sevilla FC through a 90th-minute strike; during his spell, he played as a box-to-box midfielder as well as a defensive one.
Rico joined Athletic Bilbao in late August 2013, penning a three-year deal with a €35 million buyout clause. He played his first game with his new team on 1 September, the first half of a 1–3 away defeat to Real Madrid; he featured in 94 matches in all competitions over his first two season – starting the vast majority – including all of his team's matches in the 2014–15 UEFA Champions League campaign, and culminating in the final defeat to FC Barcelona for the Copa del Rey. Thereafter, he was used less frequently by head coach Ernesto Valverde, appearing in 30 fixtures during 2015–16 and 23 during 2016–17 but often as a late substitute.
Under José Ángel Ziganda in 2017–18, it appeared Rico's spell at the club was coming to an end as he made no league appearances at all in the first portion of the campaign after recovering from some physical issues, even as the new coach tried out various squad members to find the optimal personnel for his tactics. However, after finally being introduced to the team from the bench during a match against Villarreal CF (1–1) on 19 November 2017, shortly after his 33rd birthday, he became a regular starter again, playing the entirety of the next eight league matches and two in the Europa League in which Athletic remained undefeated.
On 2 February 2018, 33-year-old Rico signed a contract extension running until June 2019. In early 2019, it was announced that he would leave at the end of the season when that contract ended. The club's final home match involved tributes to him, as well as fellow long-serving squad members Ander Iturraspe and Markel Susaeta who were also departing in similar circumstances.
- "El sueño de Mikel se hace realidad" [Mikel's dream comes true]. Gara (in Spanish). 23 August 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
- "Basconia 3–0 UPV". Athletic Bilbao. 11 April 2001. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
- "Mikel Rico despegó como futbolista en la UB Conquense... con un look diferente" [Mikel Rico took off as footballer in UB Conquense... with a different look]. Ideal (in Spanish). 31 December 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "El Poli Ejido presenta a Manolo y Rico" [Poli Ejido present Manolo and Rico]. Marca (in Spanish). 19 July 2016. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "Mikel Rico sella la permanencia del Huesca" [Mikel Rico seals Huesca permanence]. Diario de Sevilla (in Spanish). 20 June 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "El Granada ficha a Mikel Rico" [Granada sign Mikel Rico]. Marca (in Spanish). 31 August 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "El Granada mantiene su buena racha ante el Girona (2–1)" [Granada continue good streak against Girona (2–1)]. Granada Hoy (in Spanish). 3 October 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "Nàstic 0–3 Granada" (in Spanish). Gimnàstic Tarragona. 8 May 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "Mikel Rico vale para todo" [Mikel Rico does it all]. El País (in Spanish). 15 June 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "Rubén Castro hace justicia" [Rubén Castro does justice]. El País (in Spanish). 27 August 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "Sevilla slip up against Granada". ESPN Soccernet. 31 October 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "La nueva responsabilidad de Mikel Rico" [Mikel Rico's new responsibility]. Ideal (in Spanish). 13 October 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "La Liga: Athletic Bilbao sign midfielder Mikel Rico from rivals Granada". Sky Sports. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "Isco at the double to beat Bilbao". ESPN Soccernet. 1 September 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "Lionel Messi stars as Barcelona win Copa Del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao". Eurosport. 30 May 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
- "De Marcos y Rico se apuntan a Europa" [De Marcos and Rico are targeting Europe]. Marca (in Spanish). 26 September 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
- "Mikel Rico: la decisión que lo cambió todo" [Mikel Rico: the decision that changed everything]. El Correo (in Spanish). 9 January 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
- "Los fichajes de Ziganda" [The signings of Ziganda]. Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 14 December 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
- "Mikel Rico's contract renewal". Athletic Bilbao. 2 February 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
- "Farewell tribute to Susaeta, Rico and Iturraspe". Athletic Bilbao. 10 May 2019. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
- "Susaeta, Iturraspe y Mikel Rico, arropados y manteados" [Susaeta, Iturraspe and Mikel Rico, cheered and thrown in the air]. Diario AS (in Spanish). 12 May 2019. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
- "Catalunya 0–1 Euskal Selekzioa" [Catalonia 0–1 Basque XI] (in Spanish). Basque Football Federation. 26 December 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2016.