Inside No.9

The story of Alvaro Negredo - what he achieved and what might have been

Few strikers in City’s history hit the ground running quite as fast as Alvaro Negredo.

It was fitting he chose the No.9 shirt for his first club in England because, in many ways, he was the archetypal English No.9.

Big, strong and great in the air, he could have played in any era of football in this country but alongside Sergio Aguero, for a time, he became unstoppable.

Negredo was signed from Sevilla in July 2013, following in the footsteps of Jesus Navas who had joined City a few weeks before as Manuel Pellegrini returned to La Liga for talent he knew and trusted.

Negredo had earned a reputation as a prolific goal-scorer in Spanish football, with 71 goals in 133 appearances for Sevilla the three seasons prior to his switch to the Etihad.

It didn’t take him long to replicate that form in the sky blue of City as the striker nicknamed ‘The Beast’ quickly became a firm fan favourite.

"We connected very well from the beginning. In my first league games I came out from the bench and almost scored in every game,” recalled Negredo.

“For me, starting like this in such an important team in the Premier League, it I was accomplishing something, I'm not going to say  ‘it was a dream’, because it sounds like I was not expecting to be capable of doing it, but it was great.

“I was surrounded for some amazing players, with a lot of quality, the first two or three goals were headers, and I think people in England liked that. The strength that I had was good for the team because we had great attacking players on both sides.”

It was the partnership with Aguero that immediately caught the eye, however.

By mid-January, the lethal strike pairing had plundered 45 goals between them – 23 for Negredo and 22 for Aguero and were set to become one of the Club’s most prolific of all-time.

“The truth is that Sergio and I got along very well since the very beginning,” said Negredo.

“I am not a selfish striker who collects the ball and shoots. I had that connection with him and also with Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic, Samir Nasri and David Silva behind ... we had a very good line behind us.

“We made built a good friendship, because of the language, it helped me a lot. We got on well not only on the field and in the locker room, but also outside the locker room, and playing with a player like Kun, who has won everything, for me it was a privilege and we had that good feeling that made it work.”

City were powering their way to a second Premier League title in three years and Negredo was in the form of his life, but despite a 6-0 Capital Cup semi-final first leg lead over West Ham United, Pellegrini played his first choice partnership at Upton Park and paid the price.

City were 3-0 up with 59 minutes played – 9-0 on aggregate – but Negredo remained on the pitch and was still there after all three subs had been used – in the dying moments of he game, he chased a ball into the corner and was barged over, injuring his shoulder.

Few realised the seemingly innocuous injury would be the beginning of the end of Negredo’s time with City.

“I suffered the shoulder injury and everything changed,” he said. “It was difficult for me to be back to my best shape again, because I was playing with a lot of pain. I had to play with a bandage and for, as a player who likes contact, likes to collide, not being able to use the right side was complicated… I could also have opted for the option of staying at home, or in the bench, but the circumstances of the team required me to play, I forced more than I should and then I could not meet my level again because in the end the other forwards were also at a very good level and in the end you have to respect the manager's decisions.”

Negredo soldiered on, but he looked half the player he had been and he would never score again for City…

“My spell in Manchester could have been longer because I was very comfortable at the Club, I was happy, but, of course, during the second half of the season I did not have the opportunities I expected, which I respect,” he said.

“A manager has a team to manage and I’m not the kind of guy who ask questions when I don’t play. You have to accept it; you have to be a professional and at the end of the season I chose what I thought was the best for me, which was to return to Spain. I do not know if I was wrong or not, but it was my decision and time has passed by and I keep to myself the best that of those times

“Ultimately, we won the Premier League and League Cup and this is the best I took from that year, with the love of the supporters and the friendship of the teammates too. Winning the Premier League means that you’re been consistent, we beat a lot of records during that season. As a player I would have liked to have a little more prominence in the final stretch, but in the end I am happy we won those two trophies because the Premier League a huge achievement.”

Now 35, Negredo – who returned to England briefly with Middlesbrough in 2016/17 – has returned to La Liga having agreed a one-year deal with Cadiz. He still follows City’s results and retains great affection fro the Club and the supporters who got behind him from day one.

“I had a wonderful season with City and it was the love of the fans and many colleagues that made it so memorable,” he said.