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THE KING OF VALLECAS – Michu leads Rayo Vallecano’s unlikely assault on la liga
- Updated: 7 March, 2012
Roberto Soldado’s stunning hat-trick for the Spanish national team against Venezuela last week was a timely remainder to the rest of Europe that Vicente del Bosque still has a healthy supply of goal scorers at his disposal ahead of Euro2012, despite the alarming fall of one-time hero Fernando Torres.
The Valencia hitman has had to bide his time in the wait to win his third international cap for La Roja. Almost five years in fact, as the 26-year-old was continually overlooked, first by Luis Aragones and then del Bosque.
Then there is Fernando Llorente of Athletic Club. The towering Basque striker has had a fantastic season at San Mames and has become one of the most sought-after players in Spain. Add Alvaro Negredo of Sevilla who has already scored five goals in seven appearances for the national side, and the currently-injured David Villa, and it is clear Spain will not be short of goalscorers when they travel to Poland and the Ukraine in June.
There is another Spanish player however, who has scored more than all his fellow countrymen in la liga this season, and he has done it from midfield.
Miguel Pérez Cuesta, aka Michu, started his career at his hometown team Real Oviedo in the lower leagues of Spanish football. After four years, over 100 appearances and 13 goals for the club, Michu moved to Galician outfit Celta Vigo B in Segunda División B. He earned a call up to Celta’s first team after scoring 10 goals in 28 appearances during the 2007/8 season.
During the three years he spent as part of the first team, Michu made a name for himself in Spanish football, scoring 15 goals in over 100 games. In January 2010, negotiations for a transfer to La Liga side Sporting Gijón fell through and the following season he helped Celta Vigo secure a La Liga play-off spot with six goals.
Last summer saw Michu move to newly promoted Rayo Vallecano. The midfielder has been both literally and figuratively-speaking, priceless throughout the 2011/12 season, thanks to his free transfer and rich vein of form, demonstrating his abilities in the top division of Spanish football. In 24 top-flight appearances so far he has netted an impressive 13 times, (including a brace at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid) making him Rayo’s top scorer.
His goals and performances in general have not only seen him described as a ‘miracle’ and ‘revelation’ but have helped a financially poor team tipped to finish at the bottom of La Liga rise above expectations to currently lie in eighth place, just a point away from a European spot. It goes without saying that this is a very respectable position for a team that struggled to pay its players’ wages.
Despite being controversially sent off in Rayo’s home fixture against Real Madrid, Manchester United scouts were reportedly in the stands to watch his man of the match performance a week later against Racing Santander, a game in which he scored two goals.
However, this wasn’t the first sign of interest shown in los Vallecanos’ talismanic number 20. The club confirmed in November that a host of Premier League clubs such as Liverpool, Everton, Sunderland and Fulham had shown interest in the midfielder. Before the recent departure of Andre Villas-Boas, reports also suggested that Chelsea were also eyeing up a swoop.
Many players plying their trade for cash-strapped clubs often find it difficult to resist both the pay and publicity rises associated with the above clubs but with Michu’s history of being a fan favourite at his previous clubs, Rayo might see themselves stave off interest and keep their key man for at least another half a season. On the other hand, negotiating every possible Euro out of a big team like Manchester United could prove vital for the club’s survival after the recent financial problems of late, while acting as a vehicle for allowing a talent like Michu the recognition he may well deserve.
Contracted to Rayo until 2013, it will be interesting to see how things play out for this exciting player. Will he stay with his current team? Will he further make his mark in La Liga? Will he earn a call up to the national team? Will he move to a Premier League powerhouse and have success there?Follow @icentrocampista