Euro 2016 Squad Selector: Sergio Asenjo

This season has certainly been a difficult one for Sergio Asenjo. After receiving his first Spain call-up in March 2015 for games against Ukraine and Netherlands, the former Real Valladolid and Atletico Madrid goalkeeper ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, ruling him out for nearly a full year. Upon returning to the set-up, he was no longer first choice at Villarreal, with on-loan PSG youngster Alphonse Areola cementing his place in the team with performances which helped the Yellow Submarine become one of the meanest defences in Europe.

Asenjo’s first national team call-up was down to a stellar 2014-15 season which saw the 26-year-old rack up 15 League clean sheets, with Villarreal claiming their second consecutive sixth-place finish to qualify for the Europa League in only their second campaign back in Spanish football’s top flight after being relegated in 2012. Asenjo was a mainstay in the side and quickly recognised as one of the top goalkeepers in Spain after finally getting a prolonged period in the starting XI of a La Liga team.

Standing at 6’2, the Galician has the perfect frame for a player of his position and is known for his shot-stopping and ability to very rarely make mistakes. He is also very adept at dealing with crosses – he had a 97 percent at claiming balls in the air in 14-15, so the term ‘safe pair of hands’ is particularly pertinent for the man who has represented Spain at every level of youth football. In this sense, Asenjo is quite an old-fashioned, no nonsense goalkeeper.

His main problems lie with distribution, which is problematic when the country you happen to be representing is Spain. With a success rate of just 51% last time around, it is definitely his main weakness but still an aspect of his game that has probably improved over the past couple of years.

Asenjo will be very lucky to be on the plane to France this summer, simply down to the fact that injury has meant that he has not played enough games. A recent injury to Areola saw him play for the first time this year away at Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League, and he would have been very happy indeed to claim a clean sheet. He also featured in the 2-2 thriller with Barcelona at El Madrigal, so perhaps he could attempt to reverse what happened this season by reclaiming his number one spot from his French teammate. That would go some way in forcing his way back into Del Bosque’s plans, but it is a long shot. 

It’s ironic how the man who replaced Asenjo at Atletico, David de Gea, is the favourite to be starting for Spain at Euro 2016. Injuries also played a part in his departure from the capital club, and perhaps without the bad luck which seems to have plagued Asenjo throughout his career, he might just have been on his way to France this summer. 

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