Luis Enrique Should Have Selected Iago Aspas in the Spanish Euro Squad

Iago Aspas
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When Luis Enrique announced the Spain squad for the 2020 Euro Cup, Iago Aspas was one of several names expected to make the cut into the final squad. The Celta Vigo forward has had an excellent season and has been in stellar form for his club. But, to everyone’s surprise, Enrique opted against taking the 33-year-old forward.

It was not the only surprise that Enrique had made in the Spanish team. He dropped captain Sergio Ramos and opted against taking any players out of Real Madrid. The surprising decision, though, left Aspas’ omission failing to get the desired attention. But after Spain’s friendly against Portugal, Enrique’s decision to omit Aspas looks even more bewildering.

Iago Aspas Should Have Been in the Spain Squad for the Euros

Consistent Performer for the Past Six Seasons

Iago Aspas has arguably been the most consistent Spanish forward over the last six seasons. The Spaniard has scored 103 goals since 2015 – the most by a Spanish forward in La Liga. A closer look at the striker’s stats reveals that he has scored 12 or more league goals in each of the last six seasons.

Aspas has won the Zamora Trophy – an award given to the highest Spanish La Liga goalscorer – for three consecutive years since 2015. In fact, he was only second to Gerard Moreno in the last two seasons. What makes Aspas’ stats much more appealing is that the Spaniard has had very little to no help en route to his amazing run.

It has not just been goals for Aspas. He has also been effective in providing assists to his teammates. Since 2015, the striker has made 42 assists in the league alone. The 2020/21 season saw the Spaniard making a career-high 13 assists in the league – the highest of the season.

The 2020/21 season, though, has arguably been the striker’s best season. Aspas was the only Spanish forward in La Liga with double digits in both goals and assists charts. His 27 goal involvements in the league was a career-best for the Spaniard.

The Curious International Career of Iago Aspas

Iago Aspas has often seen himself overlooked by Spanish officials. The Galician’s impressive 2012/13 campaign had then-manager Vincente del Bosque close to giving him a spot in the national team. But the striker failed to make the final cut.

He finally earned his call-up in 2016 after an injury to Diego Costa forced Julen Lopetegui to call the Galician. Aspas shone on his debut after coming on for Juan Mata, scoring the opener against England in a 2-2 draw at Wembley. The Galician became a regular under Lopetegui and was a member of the 2018 World Cup squad.

But Iago Aspas’ international career took a big hit after he missed the final and decisive penalty against Russia in their 2018 World Cup quarter-finals match. New manager Luis Enrique didn’t favour Aspas but called up the forward after another injury to Diego Costa. The Galician had an impressive run, even surprising Enrique, who called it a mistake not to have called Aspas in the first place.

Despite an impressive 2018 with Spain, Iago Aspas played just two more international matches, the last of which came against Faroe Island in 2019. Since his last cap, the Spaniard has scored 28 league goals, second only to Gerard Moreno in Europe’s top five leagues in terms of domestic goals. Despite his impressive tally, Enrique refused to call up the Galician again.

After Aspas’ career-best season, Luis Enrique’s decision to leave the Galician has been met with a bit of criticism from the Spanish fans.

Iago Aspas and Spain’s Other Forwards

Luis Enrique has called up four players in Gerrard Moreno, Alvaro Morata, Mikel Oyarzabal and Pedri as designated attackers for Euro 2020. He has also called Dani Olmo, Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pablo Sarabia to fill in as wingers.

Center Forwards

Enrique picked two centre forwards in his squad for the Euros, Moreno and Morata. There is no doubting the selection of Moreno, the Villarreal man who has been the best Spanish forward this season. The case of Alvaro Morata, though, is a bit contentious.

The Spaniard was not at his best last season. Yes, he chipped in with 20 goals and 11 assists last season, but he has often looked unconvincing in front of goal. He had more big chances missed than goals scored for Juventus last season. Doubts about the forward have only grown after a dismal performance against Portugal which saw him miss a series of golden chances.

However, Iago Aspas has been far more efficient than the former Real Madrid man. The Galician did not miss a big chance and was second only to Lionel Messi in big chances produced in La Liga. Aspas even had more league goals than Morata, playing for an average team. In fact, he has scored more goals than Morata over the last five seasons. While Morata is restricted to playing as a striker, Aspas’ versatility allows him to play as a striker, right-winger and as an attacking midfielder.

Enrique opted against a versatile forward in Aspas in favour of Alvaro Morata.

Wingers

The selection of Pablo Sarabi, though, is a bit more baffling than Morata. The right-winger has barely settled at Paris Saint-Germain since his move from Sevilla in 2019. In the two seasons following his move, Sarabia has made just 26 starts in Ligue 1 and has had more appearances off the bench than starts.

Sarabia’s stats have also not been that impressive either. Since 2019, the winger has scored just ten goals and made seven assists in Ligue 1. The absence of the Spaniard in crucial matches for PSG is another factor that dents his reputation. Usually, teams rarely pick players who have spent more time on the bench unless he is one of their main players. Sarabia, though, doesn’t fall under that category. The Spaniard has played just one international match in the last two years.

Aspas, on the other hand, has been Celta Vigo’s talisman. The Galician has at times single-handedly carried the Celta Vigo team. When given an opportunity in the national squad, Aspas has also shown his quality. His stats, as mentioned above, have been far better than Sarabia. But the decision to omit Aspas in favour of the PSG man is another baffling case in Enrique’s squad. If not for Morata, Aspas should have been included in place of Pablo Sarabia.

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