Swansea City's Michu 'on verge' of Spain call-up, says Guillem Balague
MICHU, Chico Flores, Pablo Hernandez and Angel Rangel will all have the weekend off after being left out of the Spanish squad — but they will be in esteemed company.
Among those to have missed the cut are Barcelona stalwart Carles Puyol, Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas and Chelsea's £50 million forward Fernando Torres, all World Cup winners with Spain in 2010.
Such is the plethora of riches at manager Vicente del Bosque's disposal, Swansea City's Spanish quartet are unlikely to be too disheartened about being overlooked for Friday's World Cup qualifier at home to Finland.
But according to Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, it won't be long until Swansea can boast of having a current Spanish international in their squad.
"A lot of people in Spain have been paying attention to Swansea and del Bosque has been to watch them play," he said. "Michu, in particular, is on the verge of his first call-up.
"I said last summer that he would turn out to be one of the signings of the season, and I was amazed that there weren't offers from more clubs.
"I think it's a matter of time before he wins his first cap."
One of Swansea's Spanish contingent, Pablo Hernandez, has already been capped, though the most recent of his four appearances came in 2010.
The Swans' record £5.5 million signing has the disadvantage of playing in midfield, where the queue for a first-team place is populated by the likes of Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Juan Mata.
It is a little less congested in the scrum for a spot in defence but, with World Cup winners such as Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique for company, it will be no easier for Flores or Rangel to force their way into international contention.
"Chico has been another good signing," Balague added. "There aren't that many good Spanish centre-backs around, but Swansea have found one.
"Pablo has already shown that he is a brilliant player who can play between the lines, and he will only get better when he becomes a little more consistent.
"Rangel is not so well known in Spain. Like Roberto Martinez, who signed him for Swansea, he is essentially a Spanish-born British player.
"He was brought up with Spanish coaches, so he has the technique and understanding of the way Swansea want to play, and he has also adapted to the physicality of British football."
Rangel embodies the way in which Swansea have embraced the technical subtleties of Spanish football to complement the fire and thrust of the British game.
It is an ethos which has been carefully fostered since Martinez was in charge at the Liberty, and one which has impressed Balague.
"Swansea's team and system make their players better and, when the players improve and are sold on, they are able to sign players of more quality. It's a fantastic model," he said.
"It is not just a question of employing the right managers — which they have done very well — it's about having an idea.
"Swansea's chairman Huw Jenkins deserves a lot of credit for the way he has stayed faithful to that idea and developed it."
The Liberty Stadium will host "An Evening with Guillem Balague" on April 18, where Balague will discuss his book about former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola and hold a question and answer session with a special guest.
For more details, visit www.guillembalague.com