It was not so long ago that the fastest thing on four legs in Spain was the right-hand side of the Sevilla team. Manchester City's new signing Jesus Navas, in tandem with Brazil's Dani Alves, tore up La Liga and European opposition on their way to winning the 2006 and 2007 Uefa Cups as well as the Spanish and European Super Cups, and two Copa del Reys.
Today few players in world football run faster with the ball than 27-year-old Navas; back then, with Alves as his running mate and coached by Juande Ramos, they made Sevilla unstoppable.
Ramos, who knows plenty about the player and the challenge facing him having moved to England from Sevilla himself, can see him thriving on the Premier League stage. "The football, and the way teams tend to defend, will suit him," says the former Tottenham Hotspur coach who believes the back-and-forth anarchy of many Premier League matches will be perfect for a player at his best when running into space and at a flat opposition defence.
"He will enjoy himself," he says. "In England they love players that run with the ball and he is a player that responds to the crowd – that happened in Sevilla and it will happen in Manchester."
Sevilla's success brought Navas trophies but it also took him to the crossroads of his career – Alves was sold to Barcelona in 2008 and with coach Ramos also gone and Navas' lifelong friend Sergio Ramos long since left for Real Madrid, he was on his own.
Many thought the player who had turned down a European Championship call-up that summer from Luis Aragones because he still felt unprepared to be away from his home town would now never top those club successes. But he adapted. Sevilla were never as successful without Alves but Navas' first season after the Brazilian's departure was as good as any of the three before it and he showed a versatility that will serve him well under Pellegrini, who has never hidden his lack of enthusiasm for orthodox wingers.
"He played on the right-hand side for me because I had other options on the left but he is capable of playing on the other flank or through the middle behind the striker as he has shown since," says Ramos.
In 2010, with Spain's then technical director Fernando Hierro having persuaded Navas to finally accept the national call-up, the player travelled to South Africa as Spain tried to win their first World Cup. During the final against Holland the work put into convincing him paid off as, with an electric extra-time appearance as a substitute against stubborn opponents, he was instrumental in sealing victory.
In minute 115 a Dutch attack broke down and Carles Puyol played the ball out to Navas hugging the right touchline level with his own penalty area. He drifted past the first orange shirt with one touch and then set off on the charge carrying the ball into the Dutch half.
When the ball was finally prodded away from him, it ran to Andres Iniesta and after a move involving Cesc Fabregas, Navas again and Fernando Torres, finally Fabregas teed up Iniesta to score the most famous goal in Spain's history.
Vicente Del Bosque, the national coach, says: "He is in a permanent state of excitement on the pitch. There is a dynamism about him that makes him one of those rare players who can change the way an entire team is playing."
Navas remains an impact substitute for the Spain coach. But that does not mean he is an afterthought: he is seen as an invaluable weapon in Spain's at-times predictable armoury. He can pass it like the Barcelona players; but he can also run with it too, as he did at the Dutch in Johannesburg in 2010.
Will the original reluctance to broaden his horizons as far as the national team not hold him back now? "He was very young when he was first called up," says Ramos. "He had never been away from home; an awful lot has changed since then. He was away for a month with the squad that won the World Cup, and then again for the Euros. He is a different person now."
Ramos believes that his new environment will still take some getting used to. "The biggest problem will come off the pitch," he says. "He is going from the south of Spain to the north of England. Andalucia has a warm climate and people live much of their lives outside. "
He was just 22 when he could not be persuaded by Aragones to go to the European Championship in Austria and Switzerland. Two years later he was ready. And he became a World Champion.
He might still need looking after. There was a warm congratulatory embrace for him from best friend Sergio Ramos at Spain's Las Rosas training camp.
"He will have other players at the club who will help him adapt and understand the transition," says Juande Ramos. "There is David Silva, Javi Garcia, Sergio Aguero and [Pablo] Zabaleta. It will not be a problem."
Sevilla turn down West Ham bid for Negredo
The Sevilla president, Jose Maria del Nido, has claimed the club have rejected a £14.5m offer from West Ham for striker Alvaro Negredo.
Having just sold Jesus Navas, Del Nido insisted he wanted Negredo to remain at the club. "He has four years left on his contract," Del Nido said of the 27-year-old. "He is at home here.
"The summer will tell us in due course if he will still be with us, but if you ask my opinion I'd rather there were no bids. West Ham offered €17m with more in incentives but we do not value the offer and the player refused."
The Hammers last month agreed a £15m fee with Liverpool for striker Andy Carroll, who has yet to decide on his next move.Reuse content