LNTUP

Spain recalls David Villa after 3 years

Photo: AP/Getty Images
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New York City FC striker David Villa has come out of international retirement after being named in the latest Spain squad by manager Julen Lopetegui, three years after announcing his international retirement.

David Villa, who who is Spain’s record goalscorer with 59 from 97 appearances, is set for a surprise return to international football after being called up to the Spain squad for the first time since the 2014 World Cup to play in their upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

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Since moving to Major League Soccer in 2015, the striker has scored 60 goals in 87 league appearances for NYCFC, being named the MLS MVP in 2016. The 35-year-old striker has been in prolific form for New York City this season scoring 19 goals in 24 MLS games, making him the league’s top scorer.

Villa replaces Diego Costa in the squad, with the Chelsea striker continuing his exile from Chelsea following a fallout with the manager Antonio Conte.

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Julen Lopetegui, Spain’s manager, described Villa’s call-up as a necessary and appropriate step. “We believe that calling up Villa is necessary and appropriate. He’ll give us extra mobility up front and above all he’ll contribute his enthusiasm. We hope and believe he will help us.”

Two uncapped players, the Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and the Milan midfielder Suso, have also been named in the squad.

Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso is a notable absentee from the squad, despite an impressive start to the Premier League season. Lopetegui revealed that he is watching him, but does not consider him an option in the current squad, and may reappraise him in the future.

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“We saw Marcos Alonso live and he was fine,” he continued. We have followed him and do not rule out his presence in the future,” Julen said.

Spain host Italy on 2 September for what is likely to be a decisive fixture in group G, with both teams on 16 points after six games, before travelling to Liechtenstein on 5 September.