International breaks normally see football editors hunting for anything newsworthy. During this one, two main stories have dominated the sports pages. One was about Gareth Bale and the extent of his injury issues at Real Madrid. Marca ran a story and then the club and the player’s agent strongly denied it.
The biggest story was about Diego Costa, though. Some in the media have portrayed Costa as a saviour and they way they have reported, one would believe that Spain is short on options. That isn’t so. Overlooked until this week, Alvaro Negredo has just made a strong statement for his inclusion come next summer.
With Fernando Torres and David Villa entering the twilight of their career, Spain need new forwards. Fernando Llorente was once seen as a natural replacement but hasn’t exactly shone in Italy. Roberto Soldado’s form often hinders his inclusion as he blows from hot to cold. Vicente del Bosque has tended to opt for either the Spurs forward or his good friend, Alvaro Negredo, when announcing his squads.
Negredo went to Euro 2012 but failed to get a real chance, whilst Soldado was called up for the Confederations Cup this summer as the former Sevilla man went on holiday. It appears that Spain’s head Coach is reluctant to call both up, and it is Negredo who has now made a strong case in the last round of qualifiers. It seems that he may have secured his ticket for Brazil and deservedly so.
The 28-year-old forward has played 19 times for La Roja, scoring 10. Three of those goals have come in the last three competitive games. When all the attention was turning towards Diego Costa, Negredo knuckled down and did his talking on the pitch. It has worked and he has received only positive comments from both his Coach and the media. From what Del Bosque has said, it seems that Negredo has forced himself into his plans. Fans too have voiced their approval. In a poll on AS, readers overwhelmingly voted in favour of Negredo over Costa.
Brazil blocked Costa from joining the latest Spanish squad. Del Bosque had hoped to play the Atletico forward in a competitive match and thus bind him to Spain. The Brazilian FA have had other ideas though and delayed some papers that would have cleared the striker to play, meaning that Costa can still choose between Brazil and Spain. Now it appears that with Negredo leading the way, things are looking better for La Roja. Del Bosque says he does plan to talk to the Brazilian but the urgency has now been lifted. With public opinion in Negredo’s court, he may not need to push too hard for Costa.
Alvaro Negredo has worked hard for his chance. Time and time again he has been overlooked, even when his good form has had critics pleading for his inclusion. There was always the worry that he would fail to take his chance. In the past two months, he has made it clear to everyone that he is here to stay and can be counted on when needed. And that is what Del Bosque has been looking for.