BRONX, N.Y. -- Roberto Soldado scored the game-winner for Spain against the Republic of Ireland and his international teammate César Azpilicueta believes Premier League clubs should take notice.
"He [Soldado] could play in the Premier League and every league [in the world] because he's a very good player," Azpilicueta told Goal after La Roja's 2-0 win at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.
Soldado came on in the second half for starting striker David Villa and had an impressive performance, opening up the scoring for Spain in the 69th minute when he beat Ireland's defense for a precise finish. It was a rare chance for the Valencia striker, who made his eighth appearance for the national team.
Soldado has scored 60 goals in just 101 appearances for the La Liga side. It has been speculated that if the 28-year-old could see more national team minutes if he were to move to a bigger club. La Roja have yet to find a solution at striker with David Villa returning from injury and Fernando Torres' inconsistent form.
But Azpilicueta isn't sure if that is the reason why Soldado isn't seeing more playing time with the national team, pointing to high level of competition at each position.
"I'm not the manager of Spain," he explained. "The competition for this team is very high and every player would try to play but we know that it's difficult to play because we have a lot of very good players. So we try to do our best."
Azpilicueta knows Soldado well as the two played together when the Real Madrid youth product was loaned to Osasuna during the 2006-07 La Liga season. The Chelsea right back has been impressed with Soldado's career since. However, Azpilicueta believes Soldado's current club won't make it easy for him to leave.
"It's tough. Right now, he's a player of Valencia," he stated.
Whether or not Soldado moves to the Premier League, Azpilicueta is very happy with his own decision to play in England and is impressed with the league's growing contingent of Spanish players. When the 23-year-old defender learned of Chelsea's interest in him, he revealed it was a very easy decision to leave Marseille and join the London side.
"When I had the chance to go to Chelsea, I wanted to go there. I wanted to develop as a player and be in the Premier League," Azpilicueta said. "I wanted to help the club grow and win trophies. I am very proud to be a part of Chelsea."
Azpilicueta wouldn't talk about what he expects from Jose Mourinho's arrival at the club but admitted that he is looking forward to playing international teammate Jesus Navas when the Blues face Manchester City next year.
"I'm happy because we have new Spanish players in the Premier League. It's good for him and I'm very happy that he's [Navas] joined Manchester City," Azpilicueta said.
"I'm happy to play against him and other Spanish players because we have a lot now in the Premier League. Every day we are more and more and are enjoying our football in England."
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