Pellegrini would be wise to hold on to hard-working Spaniard.
Recent rumours of Atletico Madrid’s interest in Alvaro Negredo should cause alarm bells for Manchester City fans, who may well see an undervalued member of their squad leave for needlessly cheap.
Diego Simeone’s side are unsurprisingly in the market for new faces upfront after the departure of Diego Costa to Chelsea, and Negredo fits the bill perfectly for the Argentine’s squad of grafting, ego-less champions.
Not only has the Spaniard shown a prolific eye for goal wherever he has been, his honest performances full of commitment and work-rate have seen him become a quick favourite with the City fans this season. In a squad full of superstars who have arrived for big money and with big reputations, Negredo was something of a surprise addition in a busy summer with the usual exciting arrivals, and he was a breath of fresh air for the eventual champions.
After being linked with marquee purchases such as Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani, who instead both moved to Ligue 1 pair AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain for a combined total of around £106m, Manuel Pellegrini instead spent £16.4m on bringing in Negredo from Sevilla – a player approaching his 30s who had never been a regular at a big club before.
With Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko already at the club, and with the more exciting and younger Stevan Jovetic also joining from Fiorentina after rejecting rumoured offers from the likes of Arsenal and Juventus, there seemed little hope of Negredo commanding a regular place in the side, but he deservedly worked his way into the team by offering something a little different.
23 goals and four assists later, Negredo has certainly proven himself, and of course is more than just a workhorse upfront – he has quality too, scoring some memorable goals in big games, and showing superb intelligence and anticipation to set up Aguero for a goal away to West Ham United with a simple but effective dummy to flummox the Hammers defence and put his team-mate through for an easy finish.
City might well make a profit on the sale of Negredo now, but if Atletico do land him for anywhere close to £20m, they will be getting an absolute steal – and City will be losing the kind of player who is absolutely crucial to effective title challenges..
There won’t be many other options as good as Negredo on the market this summer, and it could be foolhardy for the owners at the Etihad Stadium to shell out for a replacement. Sometimes the best signings are not the ones you expect. Indeed, sometimes, the best thing to do is to stick with what you’ve got.
Some fans will no doubt point to the fact that despite a purple patch in the middle of the season, ‘the Beast’, as he became known, also endured something of a goal drought towards the end of the campaign. Still, with so many other great options at the club it is no surprise Negredo perhaps failed to get into the team as often, particularly as Dzeko hit a great run of form, and it won’t be long before City fans realise there won’t be many other players of this quality who would then be happy to sit on the bench while their team-mates shine.
Reports suggest Negredo wants a return to his native Spain, and that may be so as players often suffer homesickness, but if it is for feeling undervalued at the Etihad Stadium, the club should offer him a new contract and make sure he is a key part of their future.
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