Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio capped a magnificent few months with a recall to the Spain squad on Friday for a friendly with Colombia and World Cup qualifier at Macedonia next month.
Young Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa also gets the nod, but otherwise coach Julen Lopetegui kept faith with the squad that tops Group G on goal difference from Italy in the race for Russia 2018.
Striker Asensio 21, who has two caps for Spain, has emerged as a key player as Real surged into the Champions League final and to the verge of the La Liga title.
He is also named in the under-21 squad for the Euros in Poland between June 16-30.
OFFICIAL: Spain have confirmed their squad for the U21 Euros in Poland this June.— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) May 19, 2017
Marco Asensio is in both. pic.twitter.com/DAYnS5OPwm
The 22-year-old Kepa was also called up in March because of injury to Pepe Reina but is yet to feature for his country.
Spain host Colombia in a friendly on June 7 in Murcia, although the likes of Asensio and other Real players are unlikely to feature because the Champions League final is on June 3.
Spain travel to Macedonia on June 11 in a game they will be expected to win.
Qualification looks set to come down to a September 2 showdown against Italy in Madrid.
Here’s a look at some of Asensio’s best performances from this season:
VS SEVILLA, UEFA SUPER CUP, AUGUST 2016
On his competitive debut for Real Madrid, Asensio announced himself to the Madrid faithful with a stunning goal in the UEFA Super Cup.
The goal capped a solid maiden appearance for Los Blancos, who had beaten bitter rivals Barcelona to the midfielder’s signature from Mallorca two years earlier (Asensio spent the rest of that season on loan at Mallorca and was sent out on loan again last season).
Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane had been impressed by Asensio in pre-season, threw him on from the start against Sevilla, and was duly rewarded with an all-around display from the youngster.
VS REAL SOCIEDAD, LA LIGA, AUGUST 2016
Less than two weeks after his star turn in the UEFA Super Cup, Asensio was handed his first league start in a tough away assignment against Real Sociedad.
The youngster came through with flying colours, linking well with the rest of the Madrid attack and scoring his side’s second goal on the night.
It was a sign of things to come from Asensio, who has excelled whenever he’s been given the chance this season.
VS SEVILLA, COPA DEL REY, JANUARY 2017
Against the team he faced on his Madrid debut, Asensio had yet another highlight real moment five months later.
In a thrilling 3-3 draw, the youngster scored Madrid’s first goal with a superb solo run, going the length of the pitch after a Sevilla corner.
Madrid would win the tie in the second leg, but the first-leg performance from Asensio was crucial in keeping the team in the hunt.
VS BAYERN MUNICH, CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, APRIL 2017
Asensio scored the goal that finally killed the tie against Bayern Munich, who had done extremely well to come back from a 2-1 home loss and take the quarter-final into extra time in Madrid.
After Cristiano Ronaldo completed a hat-trick, things were looking bleak for Bayern, trailing by two goals in the tie, but they’d shown enough spirit to suggest that two goals in the final ten minutes wouldn’t be completely beyond them.
But Asensio broke the German giants’ resistance with another superb solo goal (a theme seems to be emerging). It was the highest-profile goal of the young Spaniard’s career.
VS BARCELONA, LA LIGA, APRIL 2017
Although this performance didn’t feature a goal, it did carry enough evidence that Asensio is ready to perform on the biggest stage.
In one of the biggest games in world football, Asensio was the first man off the bench, coming on as a first-half substitute for the injured Gareth Bale – a telling show of faith from Zidane.
Asensio was a constant menace down the right side of Madrid’s attack, giving Barcelona’s defence a tough time in a what turned out to be a classic Clasico.