There is no shortage of attacking options for La Furia Roja but few have been as good as the resurgent Raul Garcia this season. Once thought of as wasted talent and squandered potential, the 27-year-old attacking midfielder has silenced his critics this year.
Previously touted as Spain’s next great player almost a decade ago, Garcia has seen his fair share of ups and downs throughout his career.
Truthfully the start of his career could not have been better. At the age of 19 Garcia was the composed and mature leader of an overachieving Osasuna side who romped to an impressive fourth in 2005.
Garcia was the lynchpin, pulling the strings from midfield despite his young age. He would go on to start 28 times in the League that season. Those exploits would eventually earn him a big-money move to Atletico in 2007, but he struggled to find his footing at the capital, scoring only seven League goals over the next four seasons. In 2011 he was loaned back to Osasuna.
The phrase home is where the heart seemingly rang true for the man from Pamplona. The 6ft tall midfielder-cum-forward managed 11 goals that season, displaying glimpses of the attacking flair for which he’s become known this season. He would subsequently earn an Atletico recall.
It’s all come together during this magical season for Atletico. Garcia started the season rooted to the bench behind newcomer David Villa but with injuries to and inconsistent form from Spain’s all-time leading goal scorer, Diego Simeone turned to Garcia to support Diego Costa. He has not disappointed. Garcia notched 16 goals in 31 games all season and has been an integral cog in the Atletico machine.
Garica is a hybrid in every sense of the word. He can play in centre midfield, attacking midfield or as a second striker. He’s a reminiscent of Frank Lampard in his prime, or a Michu of last season, constantly looking to get forward and have shots on goal.
His hold up play is excellent and his ball control and technique is on par with his compatriots. But Garcia is an aerial threat as well, something Vicente Del Bosque may want to consider in terms of varying his frontline.
Garica does have another advantage over his peers as well. Like Fabregas he fulfils many roles and his versatility up top could give him the nudge ahead of more established players who have featured down years.
Though it’s admittedly unlikely the consistent Del Bosque would take such a risk, Garcia’s ability to fulfil both the false nine position and centre midfield is a value asset. His chemistry with strike partner Costa must not be overlooked as well.
Garcia is far back in the pecking order, having never been capped at the senior level. The bevy of attacking midfielders at Spain’s disposal is enough to give any manager a headache and Garcia would do well to be included amongst the final 23.
But based simply on performances he deserves to be at the World Cup and it would be the perfect cap to his revival this season as a world-class talent.