Full Name: Adrián López Álvarez
Team: Atlético Madrid
Birth Date: January 8, 1988
Birth Place: Teverga, Spain
Height: 5 ft 11 in
Chosen as one of the three overage players in the Spanish Olympic squad, Adrián López has gone from strength to strength since taking the Golden Boot trophy at last summer’s Under-21 European Championships. He has proved to be a resounding success at Atlético Madrid following the end of his contract at Deportivo. Like his Olympic teammate and great friend Juan Mata he came through the youth system at Real Oviedo, before making to move to La Coruña and becoming a regular in La Liga before their relegation. There Adrián was regarded as a talented young forward who struggled in front of goal, but he’s broken away from that tag in his debut season at the Vicente Calderón, flourishing with 19 goals in all competitions. The Asturian has complimented Falcao in a primarily wide attacking position this year, but is expected to be deployed as a classic number nine for Luis Milla’s team in Great Britain, where he has the chance to shine following Del Bosque’s decision to overlook him for the Euro’s.
Fast, skillful and always on the move, Rojiblanco fans have really taken to Adrián since his move to the capital, as he played a vital role in their Europa League success and run to the final. He scored three times and assisted a further four in the early season qualifying matches against Strømsgodset and Vitória Guimarães, before helping his side through the group stages where he hit a quick-fire brace against Udinese. It was the appointment of Diego Simeone that really brought out the best in Adrián though, as he found the net in all four knockout ties. His individual goals against Besiktas and Hannover will live long in the memory, although the highlight came in the semi-final second leg at the Mestalla, where his stunning volley secured a 1-0 win and booked Atleti’s place in the final.
On the international stage he has also impressed, representing La Rojita at U17, U19, and most notably U20 and U21 levels. Five years ago, he took the Silver Boot at the Under-20 World Cup, and would perhaps have gone further had Spain not crashed out in the Quarter-finals. Ironically it was the man he helped replace at Atlético, Sergio Agüero, who beat him to the title, although last year he went one better at the Under-21 Euro’s. Many will have seen the Spanish team, also managed by Luis Milla, ease their way to glory in Denmark, although they were on the brink of elimination in the semi-finals before Adrián popped up. With minnows Belarus surprisingly 1-0 up, it took a late goal from the Depor man to take the game to extra-time, where he went on to head the young side in front in an eventual 3-1 success.
Five goals were enough to take the Golden Boot in the competition, and Adrián is one of the favourites to do the same again in London. Edinson Cavani, Neymar and Luis Suárez will provide formidable competition, but given his pedigree it would be hard to bet against the man some are heralding as ‘the next David Villa’. With a relatively low buy-out clause of €18m inserted into his contract many of Europe’s giants have registered their interest, including the likes of Barcelona, Arsenal and Bayern Munich, although Atlético are said to be frantically trying to tie him down to a new deal. This year Adrián will be looking to stake a claim for a regular place in the national team following his goal-scoring debut against Serbia in May, and a good tournament at the Olympics will only enhance his reputation within the Spanish set-up. Be sure to keep a close eye on him when the games kick-off, and of course in La Liga next year where he should continue to fulfil his great promise.