Missing out on Spain’s World Cup squad this time around is probably akin to not getting an invite to a really depressing party—you didn’t really want to go but it would have been nice just to be asked.
Alvaro Negredo had that feeling this summer, ensuring that as his country’s period of all-conquering dominance comes crashing down in the most emphatic manner possible, he’s left with just a Euro 2012 winners’ medal to show for it. The poor lad.
It seems as though the disappointment of missing out on the squad—presumably as a direct consequence of the naturalisation of Diego Costa—has prompted the forward to have a serious rethink, with Football Espana citing an AS report that Negredo has now set his sights on replacing the departing Costa at Atletico Madrid.
Swapping the English champions for the Spanish ones might not seem like such a radical move, especially not when the player in question comes from Spain, but Negredo really should give life in England another season at least.
Because when he was good in his first and so far only City campaign, he was very, very good.
Negredo scored 19 goals in 20 games in all competitions between late October and late January, a run that included hat-tricks in the Champions League and Capital One Cup.
It was a run that coincided with Sergio Aguero’s first serious injury of the campaign, and Negredo quickly established himself as one of the leading candidates to be regarded as the Premier League’s best new addition in 2013/14, outshining fellow new signings such as Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil and teammates Fernandinho and Jesus Navas.
His goals ensured that City didn’t miss the struggling Aguero—as we discussed on these pages in January—and he was playing so well that Manuel Pellegrini was largely building the team around him. Then everything changed.
A shoulder injury began to severely hamper him, but before that he struggled against Jose Mourinho’s defensive machine in Chelsea’s 1-0 win at the Etihad Stadium in early February. He was substituted before the hour mark, and he wouldn’t score again for the rest of the season.
As City chased the Premier League title and Aguero began to suffer with injuries again, it was Yaya Toure and Edin Dzeko who frequently took on the goalscoring mantle, with Negredo going scoreless in his last 16 games of the season.
He didn’t start all of those, of course, and indeed had been completely overshadowed by Dzeko by the time we reached the closing weeks of the season, but his lack of form is sure to have got the forward down.
He’ll be 29 at the start of next season, and so the thought of one more lucrative move could certainly be a tempting one, particularly as he probably stayed at Sevilla for a little too long having failed to make the grade at Real Madrid.
You don’t completely lose all of your abilities, though, and regressing from a forward who many felt represented a perfect fit for the Premier League to one who can’t get anywhere near to scoring in it just doesn’t happen.
The omission from the Spain squad and the vanishing of his form is sure to have got Negredo down in the dumps, and you can understand a willingness to return to his homeland. But it is now up to City to get him back to the player they know and love ahead of the new season. Manchester is his home now.
As we stated when discussing Stevan Jovetic’s City future earlier this week, the club are certain to need all of their forwards throughout what will be a long and gruelling campaign on four fronts.
They can’t just rely on Aguero’s questionable fitness or on Dzeko’s tendency to score goals in short bursts—however important those goals often are—and Negredo will have a huge role to play.
He might never get back to the form of the 2013/14 campaign that saw him bag 19 goals in 20 games, but one burst like that could prove to be vital in whatever City want to achieve.
They need to be doing all they can to persuade him not to return to his homeland for another year at least.
He might have missed out on Spain’s “party” in Brazil, but he can still be a part of City’s celebrations next year.