Vitolo is in the frame to be selected for Spain ahead of Euro 2016. Mike Barnes considers whether the Sevilla attacker has done enough to secure a place in the tournament in France.
Victor Machin Perez, otherwise known as Vitolo, has played just three times for Spain, and at the age of 26, the Sevilla attacker may be thinking that selection for La Roja at Euro 2016 could be his final opportunity to collect any more international caps.
A versatile member of Unai Emery’s squad at the Sanchez Pizjuan, Vitolo was previously called up by Del Bosque ahead of Spain’s qualifier against Ukraine at his home ground in March 2015 and has an outside chance of a place at Euro 2016.
Once rumoured to be a target for Manchester United, the Las Palmas-born Vitolo was disappointed not to be selected for that game in Seville, but he did make his debut for La Roja in a 2-0 friendly defeat in Amsterdam days later and his competitive debut against Belarus in June last year.
As a versatile wide or central midfielder, Vitolo has been one of the key players in a mixed season for Sevilla. His contribution of just three goals in all competitions is down on recent campaigns – eight and nine respectively in each of the past two seasons – but his seven assists have been crucial in helping Sevilla to win games.
Sevilla remain in the running for a record third, successive Europa League triumph and Emery has Vitolo to thank for his contribution to last year’s success in the competition as the midfielder set up Carlos Bacca for the winner in the 3-2 win in the final against Dnipro.
As a right-footed but predominantly left-sided player, Vitolo provides options going forward, with the ability to cut inside from either flank and whip in crosses or play through balls to the striker. In many ways, he is in direct competition with Koke of Atletico Madrid for a berth in La Seleccion.
A powerful runner with an impressive turn of speed and good control of the ball, Vitolo also possesses great strength and balance which enables him to run at opposition midfielders, wrong-foot defenders and shrug off challenges.
His versatility gives Vitolo another dimension, however, with Emery having also deployed him as an attacking central midfielder, able to pick a pass to supply the front man, as he has done for Sevilla this season supporting Kevin Gameiro.
Del Bosque lacks a supply of wingers to select from but, depending on the shape of his team in France, Vitolo could be in competition with more genuinely attacking players such as Pedro Rodriguez and Paco Alcacer as well as playing an understudy role to David Silva or Juan Mata.
Time is running out for Vitolo to make an impact on the international stage, but as a hard worker, an incisive passer and an athletic attacker who can play anywhere across the midfield, he is instinctively Del Bosque’s type of player and merits serious consideration.