Chelsea's Diego Costa, Arsenal's Hector Bellerin and Manchester United's Juan Mata are among a number of notable absentees from Vicente del Bosque's provisional 25-man Spain squad for the 2016 European Championship this summer. Atletico Madrid's Fernando Torres has also missed out.
AS shared the squad on Tuesday, which saw Atletico's Saul Niguez and Real Madrid forward Lucas Vazquez rewarded for their form this season with places in the squad:
Mata played no part in Spain's first six qualifiers, but after appearing in each of their last six matches it's likely he would have expected to earn a call-up. Per journalist Dermot Corrigan, Del Bosque explained his decision to leave Mata out:
The playmaker has racked up nine goals and 10 assists for United this season but has rarely shone under Louis van Gaal, who has often deployed him wide on the right rather than in the centre—a position that fails to get the best out of him and exposes his lack of pace.
Football writer Richard Jolly believes the Dutchman is to blame for Mata missing out:
Bellerin—who made the PFA's Premier League Team of the Year—is perhaps an even more surprising absence, though in Juanfran and Dani Carvajal Spain already have two excellent and experienced right-backs.
Per the Mirror's Ed Malyon, there were a number of other players whose inclusion might also have been expected:
The Guardian's Sid Lowe wasn't blown away by the selection:
Valencia's Paco Alcacer—who has netted six times in his 13 outings for La Roja and bagged 15 for Los Che this season—should count himself unfortunate, per Zonal Marking's Michael Cox and Malyon:
So too should Torres, who has netted eight goals and assisted three since the beginning of March.
Costa and Santi Cazorla's exclusions were perhaps to be expected, though, due to issues with their fitness. Per Corrigan, Del Bosque confirmed that was the reason for their absence:
Of course, defending European champions Spain—who won the competition back-to-back in 2008 and 2012, either side of their FIFA World Cup win in South Africa—have an abundance of talent available, so there were always likely to be some high-profile casualties particularly for those not fully fit.
Del Bosque's omission of Costa and Cazorla is in stark contrast with Roy Hodgson's selection of Jack Wilshere for England, who the Three Lions boss is giving a chance to because he is a "special player," per Sky Sports' Andy Charles, despite Arsenal's final match of the season representing his only start.
With plenty of other talent available, the 65-year-old is probably wise to stick with the players for whom fitness isn't an issue.
On paper the Spaniards still have a strong squad and one that will be expected to reach the latter stages of the tournament, but should they struggle as they did at the 2014 World Cup, there will likely be a feeling of "what if" directed at some of the selection decisions here.