By Shikharr Chandra
Back in 2009, when Alvaro Negredo first met Manuel Pellegrini, the Chilean deemed the Spaniard as surplus to requirements at Real Madrid. Negredo who was at Almeria for two seasons had an option to go back to Real Madrid since the Spanish club had a buy back option.
‘He took me to one side and said I probably wouldn’t even be playing cup matches — I had [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Gonzalo] Higuain, [Karim] Benzema and Raul ahead of me,’ remembers Negredo.
Negredo was later sold to Sevilla where he made his mark as the club's leading scorer during his four year stay at Andalusia. Such was his fate four years later that he would soon be re-united with Pellegrini, this time at Manchester City. The Spaniard moved for a fee of £16million in the summer and has since then been one of the stars of the Premier League.
City went into the summer window without Carlos Tevez who had been sold to Juventus and Pellegrini knew that he needed someone of similar quality to replace the Argentine. There were doubts when Negredo was seen as the prime target by Pellegrini as even though the Spaniard had a good eye for goal, his work rate was not of the same level as Tevez.
When Manchester City missed out on one of their prime targets in Edinson Cavani last summer, it was seen by many as yet another disappointment in the transfer window. However Negredo's impressive goal scoring form of 14 goals in 26 appearances this season has put an end to the doubts anyone had regarding how he would fit in this Manchester City squad.
Negredo is tall, strong, can hold the ball well and is excellent inside the box - all the attributes which make him a perfect comrade for strike partner Sergio Aguero.
It has not only been Negredo's goal scoring form that has been impressive, the amount of work the Spaniard puts in is very impressive. He has four assists this season and averages a key pass every league game. He has created 17 goal scoring chances and has an impressive passing percentage of 76.7, which has been another major reason for his inclusion in the side and not Edin Dzeko.
Dzeko who has got his fair share of goals when given a start has failed to show the same amount of work rate as the former Sevilla striker. He lacks the ability to create goal scoring chances for his team mates, something Negredo has excelled in recently.
|ALVARO NEGREDO's IMPRESSIVE STATS
- 43.4 His goals per minute ratio in the Champions League - better than any other player who has completed at least 90 minutes
- 41.7% Negredo's shot conversion rate in the Champions League, second only to Barcelona's Lionel Messi
- The Spaniard has scored seven goals in his last seven starts
- City's top goal scorer in the Champions League this season with five goals in two starts.
Negredo will be seen by many clubs as a missed opportunity. Chelsea's need for a striker is very clear but Jose Mourinho decided to go for a more short term option in Samuel Eto'o, a deal which has not yet paid off for the Portuguese.
Arsene Wenger knows that he doesn't have a back-up for striker Olivier Giroud and although the Frenchman has got his fair share of goals, it will be difficult for the Gunners to mount a title challenge on three fronts.
Tottenham are dealing with similar problems as new signing Roberto Soldado has failed to make a mark in the Premier League so far. Negredo could have been the answer to their problems but the said clubs never really showed a keen interest in signing him.
Manchester City have so far scored a staggering 94 goals in five months of football this season and are just five short of their total tally from last season. City look confident again, something which was missing towards the end of last season and one of the key reasons for that is how well the team has performed in the attacking half.
They boast an impressive hundred percent record at home in the league and their impressive win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League has been the highlight of their campaign so far.
It seems like Pellegrini has brought the swagger back at the Etihad and Negredo has been in the center of City's new attacking style of football. With Aguero out injured, Negredo has hardly put a stop to his goal scoring as he continues to keep his tally ticking and what was even more impressive than the scoreline in the win over West Ham last week was how well Negredo gelled along with Edin Dzeko.
Negredo's ability to play both as the second striker and in the number nine role is what has made him a key component of City's strike force.
His impressive form will be a major boost for Spain as well who will look to add another in-form striker to their roster alongside Diego Costa for the World Cup.
Once found surplus to requirements by the same manager at Real Madrid, Negredo is quickly becoming the reason City can believe that they can reclaim their Premier League crown from neighbours Manchester United.