Luis Enrique has refused to be drawn on his decision to snub Barcelona star Jordi Alba in his first Spain squad announcement.
The 48-year-old was appointed earlier this summer following Spain’s relatively disastrous World Cup in Russia which saw them sack Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament as his future move to Real Madrid was confirmed.
Fernando Hierro stood in temporarily during the tournament, only to see La Roja knocked out on penalties by hosts Russia at the last-16 stage.
In turn, they needed to make a sensible appointment to get them moving in the right direction again and Enrique undoubtedly boasts the necessary credentials after enjoying a glittering spell in charge of Barcelona, where he earned rave reviews for their style of football and trophy haul.
However, he has sparked a reaction in Spain after deciding not to call former player Alba up to his first squad, with the 24-man group set to take on England and Croatia in the UEFA Nations League next week during the international break.
“I’ll only speak about the ones called up,” he told the media when asked about Alba’s absence, according to AS. “I already said there would be surprises. I don’t have anything to say, neither positive or negative about those who are not here.”
Marca note that the pair had their issues during Enrique’s final year at the Nou Camp, and so it remains unclear as to whether or not their personal matters are behind the decision to leave Alba out, or if ultimately the Spain boss believes that he has other options better suited to his plans with the national team.
Either way, it does raise question marks over Alba’s involvement under his stewardship, as given the 29-year-old has impressed since Ernesto Valverde took charge at Barcelona, it’s difficult to see what more he can do to force his way into the next squad.