2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

14 June - 15 July

2018 FIFA World Cup™ 

Lopetegui: Villa's still performing at a high level

 David Villa of Spain celebrates scoring his team's first goal
© Getty Images

Julen Lopetegui has opened the door to the possibility of handing 34-year-old David Villa a Spain recall. La Roja’s all-time leading marksman retired from international football after making it 59 goals in 97 internationals – courtesy of a breathtaking flick – in a 3-0 win over Australia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, but recently admitted he would “jump on the first flight back to play for the national team.”

Lopetegui recently holidayed in the USA, and used the opportunity to witness Villa impress in Major League Soccer. The former Valencia and Barcelona forward, who scored five of Spain’s eight goals during their triumphant South Africa 2010 campaign, has netted 23 times in 33 appearances for New York City this season.

“Villa’s contribution to Spanish football has been priceless,” Lopetegui said. “He’s still performing at a high level.

“We’ll see in the future if he can come back. We always bear in mind a great number of available players, and we don’t close the doors on anyone.”

Spain sit top of Group G in European qualifying for Russia 2018, above Italy on goal difference, with Albania and Israel a point behind. However, despite dominating possession and creating a series of opportunities in a 1-1 draw with Italy and a 2-0 win over Albania, they were criticised for lacking a cutting edge in front of goal.

“I always say that I'm open to play with the national team,” said Villa earlier this month. “It was a dream to play with Spain and it will always be a dream.

“If the coach ever thinks I can contribute, I'll be delighted to do so. I know it's complicated. Spain has great strikers and there are many that have also been left out."

Spain host FYR Macedonia in their final World Cup qualifier of the year on 12 November, before playing England in a friendly at Wembley three days later.

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