Atlético central defender Alvaro Dominguez has been dropped from the starting lineup for three consecutive weeks, leaving the Rojiblanco faithful baffled as to how their young star has so quickly fallen from grace.
Many have suspected that manager Quique Sánchez Flores simply wants his player to fully recover from an ankle sprain that he sustained several weeks back. The coach himself indicated as much prior to kick off against Los Periquitos. The 21-year old however, seems to disagree.
Ahead of the match against Espanyol, a match that he was forced to watch from the stands as he was not even included in the match selection, the young fullback told MARCA, “If I’m not playing now, I don’t think it’s because of my injury.”
“All football players go through hard times and I only think about biting my teeth and continuing to fight and work hard,” he said.
Despite the obvious setback that this long term absence represents, Alvaro prefers to look on the bright side.
“I’ve been working for a long time. When you play, everything is a lot nicer, but from this point of view you also realise a lot of things,” he said. “I insist that this is helping me see things I didn’t see before. I’m convinced that this experience will be a good one so that when I play, I will value it more.”
Domínguez seemed to suggest that the reason why he hasn’t seen a single minute of domestic league action since the derby loss at the Bernabéu has more to do with his play than with his injury.
“I suppose that it’s difficult to maintain a level of play at 9 or 10 in every game,” he said. “Perhaps the injury has been detrimental to my chances but I don’t like giving excuses and, if I’m not playing now, I don’t think it’s because of my injury.
“That’s how fickle football can be. Sometimes you’re at the peak and at other times it’s a world of difficulty just to take a simple step up.”
When asked if he thought that Quique is harsher with him when he commits a blunder than with one of his team-mates, Alvaro was a bit unsure.
“It’s hard to say. I’ve made mistakes just like everyone else and perhaps that’s why I’m on the bench now. I just have to accept it and that’s it,” he said.
An example of how harsh Sánchez Flores has been with Domínguez in the past was when the tactician removed the Atlético youth product from an away match at Villarreal last season. In the 28th minute, moments after current team-mate Diego Godín had scored the game’s first goal for the Yellow Submarine, Alvaro was substituted for Juan Valera.
“I had been playing well and no one likes being taken out in the 28th minute. It was rough, but I prefer to view it as just another step in my career that has served as a lesson,” he said. “The following games, I played at a very good level, so I think I learned from the mistake. I hope that this benching will also help me to play at a higher level when I return to the team.”
There have been rumours that several European titans such as Juventus, Bayern Munich and Manchester United are interested in snatching our former canterano away from the Calderón, but Domínguez is level-headed.
“I can’t think about that because I’ve spent two games on the bench. I have a contract through 2013 and if the club wants to make money off of me it’s up to them.
“I limit myself to doing my job as best I can in order to achieve the maximum with this shirt.”