Lopetegui: Mariano in Spain’s sights

Spain boss Julen Lopetegui has confirmed that Olympique Lyonnais striker Mariano Diaz could represent the country at next summer’s World Cup.

Mariano has been a revelation for Lyon since arriving from Real Madrid in an €8m deal last summer, scoring 13 goals in his first 19 League games.

The attacker is also free to play for Spain as he holds a Spanish passport, appeared just once for the Dominican Republic in a friendly and stopped accepting their call-ups a year ago.

“Pique? He’s always shown great commitment and he’s a great competitor,” Lopetegui told AS.

“We analyse him for the player that he is. His conduct has always been sensational.

“Pique-Ramos? I think the same about Ramos that I do about Pique. He’s an excellent captain and he’s always known how to act when there are times of conflict.

“Moreover, he’s come out stronger from these situations. Political tension? That mustn’t affect us.

“You have to understand what’s happening outside of football but without losing track. Of course I’d like to hear more about football, but I can’t control it.

“Iniesta? I hope he arrives well for the World Cup. It’s true Andres has had some injuries, which have prevented him from being called up at times, but whenever he’s been with us, he’s given great performances.

“Silva? He’s someone else that has always given extraordinary performances and shown a real competitive edge.

“Given he plays outside of Spain, sometimes less is said about him, but he’s still very important and a leader. He’s like Busquets, we have several leaders in our squad.

“Costa? Whenever he’s been fit, he’s been called up. Now that he’s back, we’ll look at him again and analyse him. If we think he needs to be called up, he will.

“Mariano and Lucas? Mariano, yes. He’s Spanish and eligible for selection. We’ve gone to watch him and we’re studying him.

“In the case of South American countries, there’s dual nationality. As for other players, such as Lucas, we don’t know if he can be called up.

“You can’t be French and Spanish or Italian and Spanish. You have to be one or the other because the EU says so.”

Tags 2018 World Cup Julen Lopetegui Mariano Diaz Olympique Lyonnais Spain