Álvaro Negredo’s appearance does him few favours. You could be mistaken for thinking he was a typically ‘British’ centre-forward if you had never seen the burly Spaniard play before- the kind of player who constantly torments defences with his sheer strength. In fact, the Fiera de Vallecas, as he was nicknamed by his Sevilla team-mates, offers much, much more than just that, and he has proven this in his first few months in England.
Some Manchester City fans were sceptical when Negredo signed in the summer. £20.6 million seemed like a lot, especially with the impending arrival of Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko also at the club. Indeed, the Sevilla president del Nido was extremely pleased with the amount of money he was able to coax out of City. Five months later, nobody can say that Manuel Pellegrini did not know what he was doing when he signed the former Real Madrid youth-team player.
Against Liverpool last Thursday, Negredo showcased a fine piece of skill, chipping Simon Mignolet with the outside of his boot for his side’s second goal as City continued their fine form at the top of the league. It was an outstanding goal, even if Mignolet did flap at the shot, and further proof that Negredo has a footballing brain that transcends his size. At Sevilla this was evident in the occasional bicycle kick, for instance, but it is at Manchester City that this aspect of his game has flourished.
But of course, the physical side of Negredo’s game cannot be overlooked. His brawn gives him an edge over defenders, and Negredo himself has admitted that he enjoys this aspect of English football the most. It also makes him the perfect partner for the diminutive Agüero. The pair have struck up a great partnership, which has seen them score 21 goals this season in the Premier League. As two polar opposites, they complement each other brilliantly, and they, along with the rest of Pellegrini’s side, show no signs of slowing down.
This could very well be Álvaro Negredo’s annus mirabilis with the World Cup fast approaching and City looking like title favourites. Negredo’s fine form in the Premier League has given Del Bosque a serious headache as to who should play up front for Spain, but it will be one he relishes given the lack of options Spain had up front this time last year. At the moment Negredo and the recently nationalised Diego Costa appear to be the main contenders for a starting spot, and the next five months will be crucial in deciding which of the two will start. Costa may have the upper hand on Negredo due to playing in Spain (Del Bosque has seemed to favour Spaniards playing in La Liga in recent years) but there have been suggestions that Del Bosque could field Diego Costa and Álvaro Negredo in the same formation, with Costa playing as a false nine behind Negredo. Whether this is viable is debatable, but Del Bosque will take both to Brazil if they can keep their current form up. Negredo’s battle with Diego Costa to be Spain’s starting striker will be intriguing.
There were of course questions as to whether Negredo could play in such a stylish Spain team, but so far he has dispelled these doubts, like those when he joined Manchester City, scoring a number of times upon starting for Spain. In fact, he was the team’s most efficient scorer in the World Cup qualifiers, scoring a goal every 56 minutes for Spain. At times Negredo is a battering ram, at others an artist. He is playing some of the best football of his career alongside Agüero, and is enjoying life in the Premier League. Long may it continue.