Home Football David Raya’s Spain call-up is deserved and surprising, but Luis Enrique has a method

David Raya’s Spain call-up is deserved and surprising, but Luis Enrique has a method

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“Who’s David Raya?”

It is the sort of headline you may count on right here, however not there. It is one factor to want to inform a world viewers, one other to want to inform a nationwide one. And but there it was, over and over. Who’s David Raya? Discovering David Raya. Every little thing you ever wished to find out about David Raya. However you have been afraid to ask; nicely, not afraid precisely, it is extra that you just did not even suppose to. And why would you?

As Spain‘s gamers arrived at their Las Rozas HQ in preparation for friendlies towards Albania and Iceland this week, there was an unfamiliar face amongst them. He’s from Barcelona, he is 26 years outdated and he is 6 toes tall. He’s a goalkeeper and his identify — and you may see the place that is going — is David Raya. And, as you’ve got simply learn that line, you now know as a lot about him as most individuals in Spain do.

Right here he was, a Spain worldwide, and but nobody had any thought who he was. That they had by no means heard of him earlier than, not to mention seen him.

You may suppose all that is an exaggeration and also you may even be half-right, however it’s actually not. Not a lot of 1. And we have got the Google search to show it.

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“Who is David Raya?” actually was the headline in AS.

And in ABC.

And in Aim. Gol, too.

In Cadena Ser, El Periódico and Telemadrid. In Cuatro, Sport and La Razón. In Libertad Digital, Las Provincias and 20 minutos.

Oh, and in El Español.

The excellent news is he does not thoughts: “It’s understandable,” David Raya mentioned. He has, in any case, solely performed 15 prime division video games. And that was in England, not right here. “It’s normal that lots of people know nothing about me.” The final recreation he performed in Spain was for Unió Esportiva Cornella; the following he performs in Spain might be in Cornella too, the place the selección face Albania on Saturday evening. Greater than a decade has handed in-between.

Raya left for Blackburn on the age of 16 in 2012, becoming a member of Rovers’ academy. It wasn’t till 2015 that he made his debut. He briefly performed for Convention aspect Southport, the place he says he noticed gamers struggling to make ends meet. He performed in League One and the Convention. Final summer season, he was within the Brentford workforce that gained promotion. When the decision got here, he was nonetheless coaching, and had no thought: “I wasn’t even on the pre-list or anything,” he instructed Marca. By the point he known as his girlfriend and his mother and father, they already knew: They’d learn these headlines too. In order that’s who he’s.

The subsequent query was: What’s he doing right here? And why is David De Gea not?

For the primary time in eight years, the Manchester United goalkeeper has not been included within the Spain squad — now of all instances, when his kind is nearly as good because it has been for a very long time. He’s the present Premier League Participant of the Month, having gained February’s version — the primary goalkeeper to get the award in 5 years. Luis Enrique had stood by him when he was attacked, usually viciously, after the Russia World Cup, however lets go as he prepares for Qatar.

Now, there is a little bit of déjà vu right here. Spain has been by this earlier than when Luis Enrique shocked everybody by calling up Robert Sanchez in March 2021. Right here was one other goalkeeper whose skilled profession had been performed solely in England, the place he had gone at 15. He had performed for Rochdale and Forest Inexperienced and was enjoying at Brighton: a Premier League membership, however not a Champions League one. The parallels are there, the headlines too. Let’s not scroll by all of them once more, however this is Marca: “Who is Robert Sanchez?” Cadena Ser, Sport and 20 Minutos are there too, and that is simply on the primary web page.

Their call-ups underline that Luis Enrique has by no means been one to be carried alongside by vogue or media campaigns — greater than slightly opposite, if something, he’s minded to do the alternative of what they are saying — and replicate the modus operandi of his workforce, the independence of his considering and the readability of the concept guides him, the criterion he applies.

They’ve a listing of each “selectable” participant in Europe’s prime divisions and the evaluation is exhaustive: in particular person, by video, and thru statistics. The variables are particular, very a lot theirs. This is not simply: Who’s good? And it undoubtedly is not: Who do individuals suppose is nice?

The debates that this choice provoked fall on deaf ears. And by the way, if the difficulty of the back-up goalkeepers is the primary subject of dialog, that is a reasonably good signal that issues are going actually moderately nicely.

Luis Enrique does not essentially have to see gamers in European soccer, although he does wish to see them with the selección. He’s a supervisor who has admitted to altering his thoughts on gamers when he noticed them in coaching — Iago Aspas and Raul de Tomás come to thoughts — a recognition that is made him much more open to bringing gamers into that atmosphere to have a more in-depth look, even when it is simply as soon as. For him, it’s about integration, adaptation and character too — parts he can’t measure from a distance. He desires to know they’ll do precisely what he asks of them.

“I really want to see him in the selección context,” Luis Enrique mentioned when he named Raya on this squad.

It is a probability to take action, an element that shouldn’t be forgotten; this needn’t be a everlasting choice, however moderately one thing slightly extra experimental. Spain are already certified for the World Cup and these are friendlies. There aren’t many alternatives to have a look at options earlier than Qatar.

There was a willingness to alter goalkeepers and see others that has spoken, maybe, of an uncertainty too. Not one of the three keepers that Luis Enrique named in his first squad — De Gea, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Pau Lopez — are nonetheless there. Since Russia, no European nation has given video games to extra keepers, and that listing of 4 is prone to be expanded this week. Within the build-up to the Euros, the controversy centered on whom the keeper could be. Nobody appeared to make sure, besides Luis Enrique. Unai Simón performed each recreation and is now Spain’s No. 1. He had received his first call-up lower than a 12 months earlier.

Unai Simón had a tough season, however there was one thing about him that Luis Enrique favored, and it felt prefer it was as a lot about persona as play, about kind as a lot as expertise. This week, the Spanish soccer statistician Alexis Tamayo supplied up seven metrics by which to measure goalkeepers. In all seven, David Raya was forward of David De Gea. Bringing them collectively to create a “score,” the rating learn: Raya 85%, Sánchez 79%, Simón 55%, De Gea 54%. No, it isn’t only a quantity — nonetheless lower than a precise science, however there’s something in that.

Which metrics these have been are vital, too. It is not simply the saves (totals, per shot and per aim), but additionally catches, punches clear and challenges gained. Some keepers forestall themselves from having to make the save by ending the transfer sooner; that straightforward thought of dominating the realm issues. In Luis Enrique’s imaginative and prescient, a goalkeeper cannot simply keep on his line, nonetheless good they could be there. After which there was one different metric, which on the danger of turning into reductionist was most likely a very powerful of all, approach forward of precise goalkeeping: passes.

Taking part in.

Luis Enrique is a coach for whom a goalkeeper needs to be a participant too, somebody who should make saves, however should begin strikes too. It is now not such a revolutionary thought, after all, and he’s hardly distinctive, however for him it’s completely non-negotiable.

That was seen within the choice to show to Unai Simón. And, sure, you’d be proper to leap up right here and say: “Grasp on a minute, Unai Simon is not that good together with his toes.” You may insist that at Athletic Club, his workforce, he is not a goalkeeper known as upon to move the ball all that a lot. And to recall that aim towards Croatia when he let the ball slip below his foot, conceding a comic book personal aim (credited to Pedri) from 44 metres.

However that will assist to clarify this look at different keepers now, and it actually does clarify the method pre-Euros and since. He is performed twenty consecutive video games now. If Simón was not naturally a ball participant, he took on Luis Enrique’s concepts and is best now. “He has taught me to understand the game,” he mentioned. And when he made that mistake, it did not sink him. Unai Simón ended that day being decisive, as he was once more within the quarterfinal shootout towards Switzerland.

Not that it was the penalties that mattered, precisely; it was the passing. It was what occurred instantly after. The very subsequent time Unai Simón received the ball, he was enjoying it once more, not simply hoofing it. Drawing in opponents, taking the danger, ready for his second to play the fitting ball. There was a collective coronary, positive, however it was appropriate. And it was what his coach demanded, later eulogising the keeper’s character.

That character was one thing that he could not actually gauge till he tried Unai Simón, till he had him with the squad and uncovered him to the pressures of his plans. Errors would observe, he knew, however that might not see him depart the trail, nor compromise on the id. Goalkeepers need to get better and maintain doing the fitting factor, and that was the standard Unai Simón had proven. It was their job to save lots of, positive, but additionally Luis Enrique mentioned to begin factor. “I demand of my goalkeepers that they create overloads, numerical superiority,” he mentioned. “We depend on them for that.”

“The goalkeeper is not there just to save it, at least with Luis Enrique,” Unai Simón instructed El País in an interesting interview. “You have to find the free man, which is often me, and if the opponents come to press me that means there’s someone else unmarked. It can look risky, but it’s studied and worked upon. Are you scared to have the ball? You shouldn’t be because that’s how we play. If it goes wrong sometimes, no problem because you have to take risks. Luis Enrique has made me and the team see that.”

And that’s what he desires to see in his keepers, whether or not they play in Barcelona or Bilbao, Brighton or Brentford.

“David Raya is in the list of goalkeepers we’re following; he has been playing well for a while and he has the profile a goalkeeper needs in the selección both for his ability in the goal and his ability to play with his feet,” Luis Enrique defined.

Within the Championship, Raya accomplished over 300 passes greater than some other keeper. This season, he averages greater than anybody within the Premier League. Once they performed Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp was mentioned he had performed “several incredible balls, exactly what you should do against us.” As a child, he performed fútbol sala out on the pitch. “I’ve always felt comfortable with the ball at my feet, and we work on that every week,” he instructed Marca this week. “The manager wants us to be another attacker, an extra element in bringing he ball out, creating chances and passes, short and long.”

He was speaking about his membership, however he might have been speaking about his nation — he is been away for a decade, however he is again now, in Spain’s colors. And whereas it got here as a shock, even to him, there may be good motive for it: a technique, an thought, an id. One which he matches like a glove. Or ought to that say boot? As a result of in relation to the query of who’s David Raya, the very best reply may nicely have come from Liverpool’s supervisor: “He’s a goalkeeper who could wear the No. 10.”

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