The head coach of Spain's national soccer team said Friday after making several roster changes ahead of the squad's first two Euro 2020 qualification matches that the team is evolving but not undergoing a complete overhaul.
Luis Enrique raised eyebrows with eight of his call-ups - defenders Juan Bernat and Sergi Gomez, midfielders Jesus Navas, Fabian Ruiz, Sergio Canales and Dani Parejo and forwards Jaime Mata and Iker Muniain - for games against Norway in Valencia, Spain, on March 23 and against Malta in Ta' Qali three days later.
Those players either have been named to the squad for the first time or are returning after a lengthy absence.
"I don't like to talk about a complete overhaul. We're in a phase where we're evolving and looking for what's best for the Spanish national team. Competition will cause the level to rise, and the roster will certainly keep expanding," Luis Enrique, who has a record of 4-2 since taking over as Spain's head coach after the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
"We're pleased with the six previous matches in terms of attitude and conduct, and that's the foundation for growing" and making adjustments, the former FC Barcelona manager said. "I'm happy with how the roster has shaped up."
Among those who will be making his debut with the national side is Mata, a forward for Madrid club Getafe who has scored 15 goals in 2018-19 in La Liga and Copa del Rey.
"Mata is one of the players who's in the best form. I'm not just talking about goals. I'm also looking at his work and the possibility of using him as a striker or on the wing," said Luis Enrique, who highlighted that player's technical skills and attitude.
Another of the new faces is Valencia captain Dani Parejo, who at the age of 29 has just one cap with Spain's national team.
"He's a little bit like Canales. He's one of the most in-form midfielders at the moment," the coach said, adding that it was the perfect time for him to make a contribution.
Also included among the call-ups for the matches against Norway and Malta is Navas, a Sevilla right winger who has not played for La Roja since March 5, 2014.
"We know him extremely well. His level is very high, and he's shown it with the national side and has won the big titles ... He's a very attack-minded player on the wing who's very good at separating from defenders and can provide answers. He's improved defensively, and so it's my pleasure to call up a player of his caliber," Luis Enrique said.
Referring to the nine defenders on the roster, the head coach said some of them would be used in attacking positions and that he has no intention of employing a five-man back line.