Reporter: Simon Smedley
Date online: 03 September 2013
TRANSFER deadline day passed relatively quietly at Boundary Park, with just one exciting Champions League-experienced defender joining Athletic, and no-one leaving.
Manager Lee Johnson got his last-day business done early when it was announced that 25-year-old former Swiss under-21 international defender Genseric Kusunga, who was recommended by former boss Joe Royle, had joined Athletic on a deal for the remainder of the 2013-14 season, with an option to extend for a further year.
Kusunga’s capture will be seen a real coup for Athletic.
He began his career with Swiss League One side Servette, before moving to FC Basel in 2010, where he went on to secure the Swiss title in 2011 and the league and cup double a year later.
In December, 2011, he was in the Basel squad which dumped Manchester United out of the Champions League, featuring as a substitute in the second game which the Swiss won 2-1.
Last season was spent back with Servette.
Johnson is clearly delighted with the Kusunga signing.
He said: “I felt we needed a little bit of shoring up at the back and a player like Genseric will hopefully help us do that.
“We always needed to be strong in every department — within the budget of course — and I think we’ve pretty much got that now.
“Going forward we’ve looked dangerous and generally we have defended very well in all of the games — I just felt we were a little bit short at the back.
“Genseric is a top player who was first recommended to us by Joe and Darren Royle.
“Initially I took a look and straight away could see he was a good player.
“At first I thought maybe he would be out of reach value-wise, but we’ve managed to broker a deal.
“Genseric is very smooth on the ball for a big defender, and that’s just what I was after.
“He can play in a number of positions too — whether it be as centre-back, right-back or in central midfield.”
That means Kusunga, Danny Philliskirk, Matteo Lanzoni and Albert Rusnak (on loan) have all joined Athletic in the past week, with Jose Baxter the only departure, for Sheffield United.
Speculation indicating James Tarkowski may leave the club proved unfounded, with Johnson revealing he’d had no contact from anyone regarding the talented centre-back.
“Overall I’m pleased with the squad we’ve put together,” said Johnson.
“It was a big disappointment to lose Jose last week of course, but such is life and we are we are.
“In Rusnak and Lanzoni, and now Kusunga, I believe we’ve brought some real quality in, and it’s about getting those new players to gel with the rest of the group now.
“We’re getting there. I think the supporters have already seen that on numerous occasions so far this season.”
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