By Ryan Benson
After months of hopeful denial, on June 1 2013 Sevilla fans seemingly accepted that they would not see star striker Alvaro Negredo in the club’s white and red jersey again, as he leisurely strolled off the pitch against Valencia, milking a standing ovation for everything it was worth after scoring all four goals in a 4-3 win at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
For weeks Negredo looked destined to incur the wrath of Sevilla supporters as he was reportedly set to join Atletico Madrid as a replacement for Monaco-bound Radamel Falcao, but they were not prepared to meet the €25 million asking price.
Sevilla president Jose Maria Del Nido – who in 2011 was sentenced to seven-and-a-half-years in prison for embezzlement – made it abundantly clear that he would not be forced to sell the Spain international on the cheap regardless of the club’s €49m debt, and the notoriously tough negotiator has been rewarded for his persistence.
CITY NEW-BOY NEGREDO
NEGREDO'S 2012-13 SEASON
During his four years at the club Negredo’s improvement and progression has been undeniable. When he arrived from Real Madrid in 2009 for a club record €15m, he was generally seen as backup for the formidable pairing of Frederic Kanoute & Luis Fabiano, but he burst to life in his second season.
Injuries were regular issues for Kanoute and Fabiano, meaning Negredo filled in on a more permanent basis before the Brazilian was sold to Sao Paulo in March 2011.
With that sale, Negredo had the faith and central role he craved, and he made the most of it. That term he bagged 20 league goals in 34 matches, followed by 14 in 30 the following season as he did his best to cope with fitness problems and a woefully erratic supporting cast.
The 2012-13 season would prove to be his best in front of goal. In 36 league matches, the Rayo Vallecano youth product managed to score 25 of Sevilla’s 58 goals, highlighting that without him they would have been in serious trouble as mid-table mediocrity was the outcome at the end of the season. So why the cynicism?
Although he has been a huge player for them, any Sevilla fan will say Negredo is frustrating. Part of that is down to the fact they know just how lethal he can be, therefore when he has one of his off-days it is all the more obvious.
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The problem generally occurs when he is given a prolonged period of time to make up his mind and he often tries to pull off the spectacular, rather than going for the simple option. Over complication has been Negredo’s forte.
However, the quicker tempo of the Premier League could play to the powerful frontman's strengths. When making a split-second decision there have truly been few better finishers in Spain over the last few years, and the increased pace of English football will likely see his thinking time cut short, thus forcing him to act on instinct.
All 25 of his league goals last season came from inside the penalty area, evidence that he can be relied on to find the net when used as the focal point of an attack. While his wastefulness may ring some alarm bells, it should not be forgotten that he has excelled in a wildly inconsistent team while playing as a lone front man.
City will also grow accustomed to plenty of wayward passes as recognised by his completion rate of just 64 per cent, but Manuel Pellegrini is buying a striker who is moulded perfectly for English football in terms of his physicality.
Good in the air and extremely strong, he will not be bullied by defenders, while he is adept at backing into his marker before spinning around them. The six-foot-one forward likes to be an integral figure, and linking up with Navas once again could prove to be inspired business by City.
Between them they created 115 chances in La Liga last season and they have honed their combination play for the last four years. If anyone knows how to tee-up the forward, it is Navas.
Few will try to convince you that City have not overpaid to get their man, but Pellegrini is clearly certain Negredo will prove to be worth the outlay. The fact that City have been willing to spend so much on him should prove to be an immediate confidence boost and huge show of faith.
However, the hard work starts in earnest for Negredo. At Sevilla he was the main man in a team just hoping to reach Europe, now he must prove he is good enough for the next level where the stakes are enormous.
Hopefully for his sake La Fiera de Vallecas (The Beast of Vallecas) can silence those who doubt him, but one doubts whether he will be afforded patience.
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