Alvaro Negredo: The Spanish Beast sizing up a big say in the Premier League title race

It was last June when West Ham United were linked with Alvaro Negredo, reported by Sevilla president Jose Maria Del Nido to have tabled a £14.5 million bid for the Spaniard. There was no official confirmation from West Ham, though their £15 million went on Andy Carroll and Negredo went to Manchester City.

On Wednesday night, as with football’s cruel tendancy to exploit the ironic, it was Negredo hammering more nails into the coffin of the club who last summer tried to sign him.

Three nails in fact as the striker hit an unforgiving hat-trick in the first leg of the Capital One cup semi-final with West Ham. His third on the night, the fourth of a merciless 6-0 demolition, was a sweeping finish to round off a neat move involving Samir Nasri and David Silva. It is in those players whom City possess the graceful and the nimble, yet in Negredo they have something more rugged, a relentless presence who is driven by an appetite for goals.

On Wednesday night he hit his 18th goal of a season in which he has made 29 appearances, it is easy to forget, especially as Roberto Soldado experiences teething problems at Tottenham, this is his first year out of Spain.

The similarities between the two strikers are clear, both have experienced youth football at Real Madrid, both have been considered by Vincent Del Bosque as a natural centre-forward for his Spain side and both were prolific in Spain. Negredo signed off from Sevilla with 1 more goal than the 30 Soldado managed in his last year with Valencia, though at £16.4 million, £10 million less than the fee Spurs paid for Soldado, it is now clear who got the better deal.

Perhaps it can be argued that City’s business has trumped the rest of the Premier League, certainly no fellow fresh arrival to the league can boast a similar impact and reputation City’s “beast” has forged in his first 6 months in England.

A lot of credit will rightly be attributed to City’s coach Manuel Pellegrini who has quietly and amiably instigated a revolution at Eastlands. Having won the league but stagnated to rumours of mutiny under Roberto Mancini, Pellegrini has rediscovered not only a winning formula but an overwhelming confidence that victories can be achieved with unstoppable force.

Newcastle, Norwich, Arsenal, Manchester United, Spurs and Fulham have all surrendered by four or more goals to City in the league as the juggernaut enters the second half of the season on 57 goals and counting. At the forefront of that has been Negredo, the ringmaster of City’s lavishly assembled forward line.

As a defender he can be near-impossible to track, able to constantly move along the front-line into the channels to create, he has 4 assists and has carved out 21 chances so far this season, or he can resort to his bullying style, proving a handful to his markers with his brute physical force and an ability to bring others into play. With City of course, carrying Silva, Nasri, Yaya Toure, Fernandinho.

Jesus Navas and co. as the supporting cast, that is a welcome asset. Meanwhile, while the goals have flowed for Negredo, they haven’t come without trying. 58 shots have been attempted by the Spaniard high on confidence, again providing a direct touch to the patient, measured approach favoured by City’s technicians.

It is frightening that in the £22 million Stevan Jovetic City have a player who has not played since the 30th October due to injury and even more frightening that the demolition job on Wednesday was carried out in the absence of Sergio Aguero, the Argentine who has scored 48 goals in just 2 and a half years in Manchester. Pellegrini is finding that life without them for the time being is grand as Negredo fires on the most potent of cylinders.

Especially at the Etihad, Wednesday night saw his second hat-trick of the season after he got one against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, both contributing to a run of 14 goals in his last 11 home games.

It appears to be irrelevant just whom Negredo is partnered with such is the sense of belief he exhumes, most notably in front of the fans that continue to grow in adoration of their new number 9.

With Edin Dzeko on Wednesday he shared 5 goals and said of their relationship “We are always looking for each other and the partnership is working very well. We have a special connection. He speaks a little bit of Spanish and we are able to talk. He’s also a very good player and he had a really good game, too.”

There is an unerring sense that such is the velocity of Negredo’s form, the Spaniard could be partnered with anybody and strike up a prosperous combination.

It will be his burgeoning link-up with Aguero on which Pellegrini will pin his hopes on delivering City the title however, once the Argentine, on 13 goals for the season so far, recovers from his calf injury. “I need to get more and catch him up because I know, when he comes back, he will score more goals,” Negredo said of Aguero.

The Premier League will be higher on the list of priorities than the League Cup and there will be few more obliging opponents than West Ham’s sacrificial lambs on Wednesday, but as City approach the run in direct competition with Arsenal and Chelsea, the faith is in the beast to power them over the line.

 

Written by Adam Gray

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250

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