Although typically deployed as a right-back nowadays, Athletic Bilbao’s Oscar de Marcos is a high-energy player who is equally comfortable on the left-hand side of the defence, as well as on the right wing and as an attacking midfielder. Like most modern full-backs, he is a good crosser of the ball who likes to get forward as early as possible, yet it is his versatility that makes him most appealing.
The 27-year-old is able to operate on either side of the defence, typically dropping deep into the back four, and also as an attacking midfielder who gets into the penalty area as a supporting striker, while his physical attributes mean he can fulfil any of those roles more than effectively.
He also has a good touch, is cool and composed with the ball at his feet, and is astute at picking out the perfect pass when required. The fact he keeps going for the whole 90 minutes, whilst at the same time proving a handful for opponents, also marks him out as worthy of consideration in terms of international football.
However, despite some tremendous performances that have seen him play a key role in Athletic Bilbao’s resurgence following an inconsistent start to the season, it is hard to see him breaking into Vicente del Bosque’s squad for this summer’s European Championship finals.
It is nothing to do with the Basque-born player not fitting the criteria, but the fact that La Roja are well covered on the flanks, particularly down the right hand side where Atletico Madrid’s Juanfran and Mario Gaspar of Villarreal are expected to compete for the full-back position.
Injury to either may be the best chance of an unexpected call-up for De Marcos, who was given a taste of the international set-up in November last year when introduced into the Spain squad, alongside Real Madrid’s Nacho, as a replacement for the sidelined Sergio Ramos and Juanfran ahead of friendlies against England and Belgium.
De Marcos did not play in either match, with the latter in Brussels being cancelled due to the city’s lockdown as a result of the terrorist atrocities in Paris.
As dependable as they come, De Marcos is a veteran of over 30 La Liga games for Athletic in each of the last five seasons, in addition to clocking up over 80 appearances in the Copa del Rey and Europa League since former boss Joaquin Caparros splashed out €300,000 to sign him from Alaves in July 2009.
It is unsurprising, therefore, that he has attracted interest from a number of Europe’s top clubs, most notably Chelsea and Manchester United, and his combative style has even been compared to that of United great Roy Keane. The player himself, though, has always insisted he wants to stay at San Mames for the rest of his career.
Whether or not he can eventually make the breakthrough on the international stage remains to be seen, yet his age may go against him if Spain decide on a major rebuilding job after Euro 2016.