There are some football players who, despite their ambitions and intentions, are only ever meant to play for one club. They find a place where they feel confident, relaxed and appreciated, a place where they feel truly at home. It might be their home club (as was the case with Francesco Totti), or it might be a far away club in a foreign country but wherever it may be, once they pull on that shirt everything just feels just right. One player who has certainly found a club where he feels at home is Iago Aspas of Celta de Vigo. Although, the Galician striker had to find out the hard way that his destiny lay right on his doorstep.
Having been born just across the river from the club he now represents and where he spent his years as youth player, it is no wonder that Aspas has become something of a local hero. Particularly following a 23-goal haul that helped the club secure promotion to La Liga back in the 2011/12. The following season, he endeared himself further by scoring a further 12 goals, helping his hometown club retain their top-flight status in the process.
Despite his success, it still came as something of a shock when English club Liverpool made a move him in the summer of 2013. The Anfield club already had several attacking options in Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Fabio Borini, while Philippe Coutinho, Steven Gerrard and Victor Moses offered further offensive support from midfield. It was hard to see how the young Spaniard would ever force his way into Brendan Rodgers’ first XI. However, an £8 million move was agreed and the player bid an emotional farewell to his boyhood club.
Aspas got off to a good start impressing during Liverpool’s pre-season campaign but as expected spent much of the season playing second fiddle to his more established teammates as the club went on to finish second in the league. During this time, his confidence dipped and he began to feel homesick.
Unfortunately, the Galician’s time on Anfield will be best remembered by a corner kick he took during the dying minutes of Liverpool’s home game against Chelsea on April 27, 2014 with the club seeking an equaliser that would have kept their title hopes alive. In his eagerness to make an impact, the striker rushed over to take the kick, but as seven or eight teammates waited in the box he inexplicably passed the ball along the ground straight to the feet of opposition player Willian.
At the end of the campaign, it came as no surprise when the striker was loaned out to Sevilla, where he once again he failed to settle. By this time, he wanted nothing more than to return home to his beloved club, a wish that finally came true in 2015.
Since his return, Aspas has flourished, netting 14 and 19 times in his first two seasons respectively and finishing the first half of the 2017/18 season second only to Lionel Messi in the goal scoring charts with 11 strikes to his name. He currently sits at 33/1 with bet365 to become top scorer in the La Liga betting.
What’s more, he has come to represent the very spirit of the club. His battle against the odds to get his career on track, while helping his club to remain in the top flight and go all the way to the semi-finals of the Europa League has forever cemented his place in the hearts of the fans. The redemption of Iago Aspas is well and truly complete.