Whites star fits the bill so Leeds United could be heading for eighth player at the Euros

LEEDS United definitely have seven players heading to the Euros but as things stand their record signing is not one of them.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 10:34 pm

It’s an odd situation, but one that could yet change as Spanish international forward Rodrigo still has prospects of stepping out on the summer’s big stage.

Whites no 9 Patrick Bamford is probably regarded as the highest profile omission from a Euros squad this summer as the striker was overlooked by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate despite being the second highest scoring Englishman in the country’s top division.

But Rodrigo’s failure to make Luis Enrique’s Spain squad was just as a big if not a bigger deal.

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BACK IN THE PICTURE: Leeds United's record signing Rodrigo, above, is back in the Spain fold and could yet make the Euros squad. Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images.

Unlike Bamford, Rodrigo has extensive international experience to his name having already amassed 25 caps and eight goals during his career.

His latest cap came as recently as last October and whilst the forward then had coronavirus and injury troubles, the 30-year-old ended his first Premier League season with a bang.

The record signing finished the campaign by contributing four goals and one assists in his last four outings and was also nominated for the May player of the month award.

“It’s been an amazing season for me and the club,” said the Spaniard reflecting on his first campaign in England last month.

“I think I’ve finished the season well, of course I had some injuries which didn’t allow me to play more games, but I’m very happy with how everything finished.

"Yet despite his stellar end to the season and past experience for his country, Rodrigo was still overlooked when Enrique named his Spain squad for the Euros.

Instead, Enrique opted for RB Leipzig’s Dani Olmo, Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal, Juventus star Alvaro Morata, Villareal’s Gerard Moreno, Manchester City’s Ferran Torres, Wolves flyer Adama Traore and Paris Saint-Germain’s Pablo Sarabia as his attacking options.

Yet Spain failed to put the ball in the net even once during Friday night’s friendly against Portugal in which Enrique’s side squandered a host of chances after lining up with Morata, Torres and Sarabia in a front three.

Gerard Moreno was also given minutes off the bench but Morata was particularly wasteful and Spain just looked to be lacking a natural goalscorer which made Rodrigo’s omission all the more glaring.

Yet fate can work in mysterious ways and it might be that Rodrigo still steps out at the Euros due to complications with coronavirus in the Spanish camp.

Spain captain Sergio Busquets has returned a positive Covid-19 test which has forced Enrique to pull his senior squad from last night’s friendly against Lithuania in Leganes, which was played by the Spain’s under-21s instead.

But the Spanish football federation has also taken steps to mitigate the potential consequences of a positive test in the camp by calling up six more players to their base in Las Rozas and Rodrigo is considerably the highest profile recruit.

Spain initially announced that four players had been called up in the shape of Rodrigo plus two more attackers in West Ham’s Pablo Fornals and Celta Vigo’s Brais Méndez along with Valencia ‘keeper Carlos Soler

It was then announced that both Villareal defender Raúl Albiol and Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga were also joining the fray and it’s not difficult to envisage at least one of them now making the final squad.

The quartet will complete training during the next few days under Enrique’s orders within a parallel bubble and Spain say that ‘a small group of footballers yet to be confirmed will join the training sessions of the senior team under the same conditions as the previous ones’ following the friendly against Lithuania.

A statement released on Monday night read: “They will train at different times and will not mix in any case with the summoned.

“The players invited to the training sessions will remain outside the Ciudad del Fútbol bubble and will go daily to Las Rozas after having passed the relevant daily tests before their arrival and during their stay.

“Their definitive incorporation to the Euro 2020 list will be evaluated based on the results obtained in the coming days.”

Time will tell, but on recent evidence, Rodrigo is probably just what Spain need.

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Thank you Laura Collins