When Bryan Gil departed Tottenham Hotspur for Valencia on loan in January, six months after joining from Sevilla, it took some observers by surprise. Gil was considered one of the brightest young talents in Spain, but he signed to play for one manager (Nuno Espirito Santo) and ended up playing for another (Antonio Conte).
Slight of frame and a touch undersized, Bryan found adaptation to the Premier League’s physical style of play difficult, and finding playing time under Conte even more so. Since leaving for Valencia, he’s gotten starts and has become a fan favorite at the Mestalla.
Today, AS released a Spanish-language interview with Bryan who talked about the shift from La Liga to the Premier League and back again, and what the loan might mean for his future. Bryan admitted that making the transition has been tough, and that he wasn’t getting the match time that he was expecting, but it has helped him develop as a player.
“Every player needs and wants to have continuity, to feel important. Here in Valencia I am feeling it from the first day. That shows on the field, in training, the attitude, you see football with another face. You always have to be psyched up in case you have to live the other part, and I lived it in London. Not playing affects you on a day-to-day basis, obviously, because you are sadder and more downcast. But it is part of football and you have to accept it. And the experience in London has been good for me.
“Being in another country, playing in another league, going through complicated personal situations far from home... these are small steps that you have to take and that make you mature. I’m young, but in football there is no age and you have to assimilate each situation as best you can.”
Gil especially noted the physicality of the Premier League as the thing that took the most adjustment, but said that his short time in London has already paid dividends and he can see that in the way he’s playing at Valencia.
“In the Premier training sessions are very physical, very hard, and that has helped me not to feel fatigue now. [The league’s physicality] shows a lot, really. It is a slightly higher level of intensity. I physically noticed it. The adaptation for me was difficult. It is a very physical football, back and forth.
“Being there has been good for me, even if I didn’t play what I wanted. I am more mature. I changed habits like eating, I had a chef at home and I gained two kilos. Even so, I noticed that it was not enough for the physical level that exists in the Premier. In Valencia I continue to work hard on endurance, physicality, in case I have to come back, to be prepared.”
It’s clear from the interview that Bryan feels more comfortable playing in Spain, which makes sense as it’s the league with which he’s most familiar. But it also seems he understands that succeeding in the Premier League would make him a better footballer, and he’s already noticing a change. Tottenham sending Gil on loan doesn’t feel to me like a move from a club that’s already willing to cut bait on him, but rather a move to give him more time to develop so that he’s more easily able to acclimate to a new country and a new style of play.
As for Bryan, he didn’t allow himself to be drawn into speculation on his future.
“I belong to Tottenham and they are the ones who have to decide. It’s not up to me.
“That will depend on the clubs, I just do what I’m told.”