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Football | Spain

Benat Etxebarria © Action Images

Betis coach urges Benat to stay



Real Betis coach Pepe Mel has advised coveted playmaker Benat Etxebarria to stay on at the Andalusian club for the rest of the season and not let himself be lured away in the January transfer window.

One of a rich crop of talented Spanish midfielders, Benat has broken into the senior Spain squad this year and has caught the eye in La Liga by scoring a series of superbly executed free kicks.

The 25-year-old is a graduate of Athletic Bilbao's youth academy and the Basque club, flush with cash after Javi Martinez's move to Bayern Munich, are one possible destination should he decide to leave Betis.

"My advice to him is that the best thing to do, for all the siren calls that he hears, is to continue developing with Betis until the summer," Mel told a news conference on Thursday.

"He is in the hands of his agent and the club," added the 49-year-old former Rayo Vallecano coach.

"He trains every day, he plays well or less well but he always gives his all. He is fundamental for us and he challenges himself more each day."

Known for his infectious enthusiasm and part-time career as a novellist, Mel helped Betis win promotion back to the top flight in the 2010-11 season after two years in the second division and his side have outperformed this term.

The Seville-based club are fourth on 19 points, one behind Real Madrid, and can climb above the champions with a win at home to Granada on Friday.

"Every day that I get up and go to coach Betis is like a holiday," Mel said.

"I have the same joy I had two and a half years ago, with the same desire each week," he added.

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