David Villa returns to Spain squad, Costa out

Date published: Friday 25th August 2017 12:05

Spain have recalled veteran striker David Villa to their squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Italy and Liechtenstein while exiled Chelsea forward Diego Costa misses out.

The 35-year-old Villa, who plays for MLS side New York City FC, retired from international football three years ago following Spain’s elimination in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup.

However, Spain’s all-time top scorer, with 59 goals in 97 appearances for La Roja, has been named in Julen Lopetegui’s squad at the expense of Costa.

The Chelsea forward has yet to play this season due to an ongoing transfer dispute with his Premier League club regarding a move to LaLiga side Atletico Madrid.

Lopetegui told a press conference: “We believe he (Villa) can help us. He gives us mobility and is especially eager. We hope and trust he will help us.”

Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso is also not included in the 26-man panel but Blues team-mate Alvaro Morata is selected along with Cesar Azpilicueta and Pedro.

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea and Manchester City midfielder David Silva are picked, as is Marc Bartra, who was injured in an attack on Borussia Dortmund’s team bus ahead of their Champions League quarter-final first leg with Monaco in April.

On Costa, Lopetegui said: “It’s been a difficult summer and he is not playing, so we will not take him.

“We talk to everyone and see their personal situations. They have a particular situation and we don’t feature in it.

“More than worrying, we are looking for solutions.”

The former Porto coach is also not concerned that Villa returns to the national squad from MLS.

“Coming from another league is an issue that we can not change,” he said. “We have to believe in our instinct knowing that they are different competitions.

“If he comes now, it’s because he’s going to help us. In the next (squad), we will make the decisions based on their performance.”

Along with Villa, Suso has been called up after his performances for Milan.

“He’s a guy that we know very well from the lower ranks and has made good progress. He has settled in the elite and has assumed a different role,” Lopetegui said.

“He has done very well in Italy and we are paying attention to what he does. That is why we have decided to include him. He deserves it. He has talent and mixes well with our way of playing.”

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