There is not a single position on the pitch where Spain do not have what many would call an ‘embarrassment of riches’, with their latest squad testament to that.
Initially the forwards Vicente del Bosque named for their matches against Belarus and Georgia were Alvaro Negredo and David Villa, with players like Juan Mata, Pedro Rodriguez, David Silva and Jesus Navas competing for the supporting roles.
Villa, however, was forced to withdraw with ankle injury, thus giving Del Bosque the pleasant problem of picking from raft of capable replacements.
Roberto Soldado and Fernando Llorente would have had some measure of expectation regarding a recall, with Fernando Torres absent through injury and Diego Costa waiting for accreditation on his eligibility. Real Betis’ Jorge Molina would have been an outside bet too. Yet, the man who has finally been given his chance is Swansea’s Michu.
A call-up for Michu has been so deserved for well over a year that it looked like it would never happen. Time and time again he has missed out to the declining Torres and out-of-shape Llorente, who has hardly played over the last 12 months. But Del Bosque has eventually seen the error of his ways.
Soldado has been fairly unconvincing at Tottenham since a €30m move from Valencia having only managed two goals in seven Premier League appearances, while Llorente and Torres have not justified selection recently either. The Juventus man only started four La Liga matches for Athletic Bilbao last season before earning a move to Serie A, but he is yet to truly star for Antonio Conte’s side having made just two starts.
What makes Michu’s call-up delay more surprising is the fact that since the start of the 2011-12 season when he was still at Rayo Vallecano, he has scored 35 League goals, the same amount as Torres and Llorente combined.
Since signing for Swansea, Michu has mostly been played out of his favoured position, too. The introduction of Wilfried Bony has seen that change this term, but in his days at Rayo more often than not he played in a withdrawn role.
That in itself fits in well with Del Bosque’s Spain side, with the Coach regularly using players in the ‘false 9’ position, a role in which Michu should be well-suited to.
So far in the Premier League this season, the Swansea man has only scored two goals, but the fact he has created 16 goal-scoring opportunities for teammates highlights his overall productivity. As a player with 79 per cent passing accuracy of late, Michu fits in better with the ethos of Spain’s particular football more so than Torres with 65 per cent accuracy and Llorente with 59 per cent, but will Del Bosque give him the extended chance he deserves?
Presuming he continues his good form with Swansea, then the 27-year-old should be considered ahead of both Fernandos in the build-up to the World Cup, but Diego Costa already looks certain to go. Similar could be said for Negredo and Villa.
Michu’s chance may only end up as a fleeting moment, a brief reward for his performances, but he cannot afford to pass it up in a World Cup year.