Liverpool flop to Spain sensation - could Iago Aspas swap Celta for top European club?

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The striker failed to adapt at Anfield, but is now playing the finest football of his career in Vigo. So what does the future hold?


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Iago Aspas finally made a mark in England. After an unsuccessful spell at Liverpool where he arrived amid high hopes but never settled, the Spanish striker has been rebuilding his reputation in his homeland ever since. And his goal at Wembley last week showed the Reds just what he can do. 

Aspas scores on Spain debut as Spain earn late Wembley draw

Aspas, now back at Celta Vigo after a loan spell at Sevilla in 2014-15, was called into the Spain squad by Julen Lopetegui as a replacement for the injured Diego Costa. And with La Roja two goals down to England in last Wednesday's prestige friendly fixture, he came off the bench to score with a superb strike that went in off the post.

It was what Liverpool fans will have wanted to see when he signed in 2013, but instead Aspas struggled for game time behind Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, failing to adapt or settle properly, unable to learn the language besides saying "yes" and a few swear words. He was often hauled off for a young Raheem Sterling as well, the winger showing much more attacking ambition and tactical nous.

The Spanish striker was on target only once in 15 appearances for Liverpool, scoring in a 2-0 win over Oldham in the FA Cup. But he will be remembered more for a corner against Chelsea which saw him send in a low pass straight to Willian on the edge of the area from which the Blues broke on a counter-attack. It was mercilessly mocked on social media - and so was Aspas.

So he moved back to Spain on loan with Sevilla and the surroundings suited him much more. Under Unai Emery, the Galician striker scored 10 goals in 25 appearances, some spectacular, but he had a difficult relationship with the Basque coach and after showing his annoyance at not being given game time against Elche, he was involved in an angry exchange of words with his coach.

Liverpool fans urge Klopp to bring back Aspas after wonder strike

Emery called Aspas a "repeat offender" in a press conference after that and although the striker had said he would be staying at Sevilla, he was one of four players cut from the squad for the Europa League final in 2014-15, failing to feature as the Andalusians beat Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk on penalties.

A return to Celta that summer saw Aspas back at his club, back with his family, back in his land. There were doubts, even at the low price of little more than €4 million, but the player quickly settled again into life in Vigo and he scored 18 goals from 40 appearances in 2015-16, including a double against Barcelona. And this season, he has hit seven from 14, with another versus Barca and two in the Galician derby win over Deportivo La Coruna.

Isco & Aspas paper over the cracks for Spain

So it looks like he is back for good. At the age of 29, he is now playing the finest football of his career. Howver, his mixed experiences at Liverpool and Sevilla may make potential suitors think twice about tabling a bid - particularly as his release clause stands at a prohibitive €30m.

No club in Spain will pay that amount for Aspas. Barcelona forked out exactly €30m for Paco Alcacer last summer, but the former Valencia striker is only 23 and has potential resale value, which is not the case with Iago. A move back to the Premier League also looks unlikely given the Liverpool precedent, with a Spanish-speaking coach probably essential to his hopes of succeeding second time around away from Galicia.

At Celta, though, they will be more than happy if he stays for the rest of his career. That is where he has always felt at home and also where he has produced his best performances. At least he has a better memory from England now, though.

Not that England's in his plans any more. "It was a difficult year but scoring here makes up for it," he said after his Wembley strike. "Now I’m dreaming of going to Russia [for the World Cup with Spain]."

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