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Wednesday June 1 2016
Euro 2016 Squad Selector: Borja Baston

Borja Baston was the third highest scoring Spaniard in La Liga, but he didn’t make the Spain squad for Euro 2016. Euan McTear explains why.

Borja Baston finally got his chance and he took it. The striker had played just 21 minutes of La Liga football in his whole career before the 2015-16 season. Those minutes came in 2010 when he was at Atletico Madrid, but a serious injury cut that appearance short. It was a major setback for the young striker as Atletico gave him a second chance after his recuperation from that injury. Instead, Baston was shipped out on loan over the following five seasons to Real Murcia, Huesca, Deportivo, Real Zaragoza and then to Eibar last season, where he would finally get the chance to play a 22nd minute of La Liga football.

It only took him 54 more minutes to grab his first La Liga goal, and another 38 to get his second. Baston had hit the ground running and, now 23-years-old, he finally had the opportunity to play in La Liga that he had been waiting for. He thrived in Eibar’s system, able to play on his own at the tip of attack or alongside his strike partner Sergi Enrich and Baston finished the season with a very impressive tally of 18 league goals. That made him the third highest scoring Spaniard in the country, behind Aritz Aduriz and Ruben Castro, and the 10th top scorer overall. Based on that haul of goals, there was a serious chance that Vicente del Bosque might include Baston in his Spain squad for Euro 2016.

Ultimately, however, Del Bosque did not include the Eibar striker in his provisional 25-man squad, nor did he include Baston on the backup list. There are a couple of reasons as to why that might have been.

Firstly, Baston’s form had tailed off a little towards the end of the season, with the striker scoring just once in his final eight matches. Another potential factor is that Baston still lacks big game experience, with this just his first season in the Spanish top flight. Real Madrid’s Lucas Vasquez, who is in the provisional squad ahead of Baston, may be just one year older than the loaned-out Atletico man and he may have scored a fraction of the number of goals that Baston managed this season, but Vasquez does have big game experience, which he demonstrated most recently when he coolly slotted away the first penalty in last weekend’s Champions League final shootout.

It simply isn’t yet Baston’s time to join up with his national team, but that time will surely come. It remains to be seen whether or not Baston will be kept in Atletico’s first team squad for next season, but the incredible audition he has given while on loan at Eibar suggests that he deserves that opportunity.

At the very least, Baston will have other big clubs after his services this summer and he will, therefore, have the chance to further develop next season and to see how many goals he can score as part of a better quality squad than Eibar’s. 

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