Meet the Arsenal target forcing Spain to ditch the false nine

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Until recently Cesc Fabregas was a more trusted “striker” in the Spanish side than the likes of Fernando Torres, Alvaro Negredo or Roberto Soldado, as Vicente del Bosque’s obsession with the false nine went through the roof.

After a disastrous World Cup in which the 2010 champions crashed out in the group stage having won one game, the Spain boss was forced to freshen up his squad. As a result, a host of new faces were called up for the start of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

One of those newbies was Valencia youngster Paco Alcacer, whose showings in his first two appearances could end the Spanish false nine dawn for good.

Admittedly Chelsea’s beastly front man, Diego Costa, could be the first reason to ditch using Fabregas up front on a regular basis. But in his absence, Alcacer has proved a capable reserve.

His debut came when replacing the Brazilian-born striker against France and the 21-year-old profited from Costa’s injury in the second outing of the international break, when starting against Macedonia.

Scoring his country’s second goal, before setting up Sergio Busquets for the third, Alcacer was a clear bright spark in a central striking role.

Having broken into the Valencia first-team last season, the Torrent native showed a keen eye for goal when netting 14 times in all competitions.

A quick start to this term, where he’s bagged one strike and one assist from two appearances, has seen him quickly leap into the national side and, in tandem with Costa, can help Spain regain their footballing powers.

Playing an out-and-out striker means replacing Xavi becomes far easier for Del Bosque, who’s 5/1 to win Euro 2016, as it allows the gifted Fabregas to create from a more natural deeper position.

With Alcacer making an impressive start and Costa still waiting for his first international goal, it could be the Valencian kid who Spain come to rely on sooner rather than later.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.