New York City striker David Villa is set to make a surprising return to the Spanish national team for the upcoming internationals against Italy and Liechtenstein after having been included in Julen Lopetegui's 26-man squad, replacing Chelsea outcast Diego Costa. In-form Marcos Alonso has once again missed out while Real Madrid and Barcelona continue to dominate the list with five players each.
Spain will play a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Italy at the Santiago Bernaneu on 2 September before taking on Liechtenstein in Vaduz three days later.
Costa has been Lopetegui's first-choice to lead the attack ahead of former Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata since the manager took over from Vicente Del Bosque following the disappointing Euro 2016 campaign. However, the Chelsea striker will have no part to play in the decisive game against Italy having chosen to remain in Brazil despite being ordered to return to his club having been made surplus to requirements by Blues manager Antonio Conte.
Costa has been trying to force a return to Atletico Madrid throughout the summer but the La Liga side and Chelsea are yet to reach an agreement – despite Spanish radio station Onda Cero claiming last weekend the clubs were close to agreeing a deal worth €45m (£41.4m, $53.2m) plus €10m in add-ons.
Lopetegui has therefore decided to recall 35-year-old Villa even though the New York City striker has not played a game for Spain since the 2014 World Cup.
The former Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia striker has been in impressive form since moving to the Major League Soccer, however, having scored 60 goals in 90 appearances for New York City.
Chelsea's new record signing Morata and former Liverpool flop Iago Aspas have also made the squad, leaving Lopetegui with a decision to make as to who will lead the attack against Italy.
Chelsea have two other representatives in the form of Pedro and Cesar Azpilicueta but Alonso fails to feature in Lopetegui's plans once again despite his impressive start to the season, scoring a brace in the Blues 2-1 victory over Tottenham last Sunday.
Meanwhile, AC Milan playmaker Suso is the other big surprise in the squad with the former Liverpool playmaker making the cut ahead of Manchester United's Juan Mata.
Arsenal's Nacho Monreal, Manchester City's David Silva and United keeper David De Gea are the other three representatives from the Premier League as there is no space for Ander Herrera.
Meanwhile, Champions League winners Real Madrid and Barcelona have both five representatives each in the squad. Nacho, Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Isco and Marco Asensio will represent Los Blancos while Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Deulofeu are the five Barcelona players included by Lopetegui.