Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz controls the ball during the La...

Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz controls the ball during the La Liga soccer match between Valencia and Real Madrid at the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain, Saturday, March 2, 2024. Credit: AP/Jose Breton

MADRID — Spain coach Luis de la Fuente said Monday he respected Brahim Díaz's decision to represent Morocco rather than his team, adding that only individuals who want to play for La Roja are welcome in his squad.

The daily Marca and other local media said that the Real Madrid winger would join the Morocco squad for the upcoming international break.

“I absolutely respect his decision,” De la Fuente told Spanish media. “Everyone has to make their own decisions.

"But I also always say that there are three requirements when it comes to being with our national team. First, that he is eligible; second, that he wants to be with the team; and third, that the coach selects him. But the most important thing is to want to play for us, without demands or conditions, with equality of rights and obligations as all other players.”

De la Fuente said he had not talked to Díaz, who has dual citizenship, before or after the player's decision was announced.

Spanish media said the national team's lack of interest in Díaz played a role in his decision. Morocco was reportedly active in trying to get him to join its team.

Díaz was a regular in Spain’s youth squads, including the ones that used to be coached by De la Fuente.

Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz and Valencia's Diego Lopez, right, battle...

Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz and Valencia's Diego Lopez, right, battle for the ball during the La Liga soccer match between Valencia and Real Madrid at the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain, Saturday, March 2, 2024. Credit: AP/Jose Breton

He won his solitary senior cap, and scored a goal, in a 4-0 win over Lithuania in a June 2021 friendly match. The under-21 squad were called up for that game because senior players were isolating due to COVID-19.

“Brahim played with me more than with any other coach,” De la Fuente said. “I value him a lot and I wish him the best. Every person is free to make their own decision.”

World soccer's governing body FIFA must process any request by a member federation for a player to change national-team eligibility, though Diaz is a routine case as he has never played a competitive senior game for Spain.

After performing well with Madrid this season, the 24-year-old Díaz had been touted as a potential call-up in De la Fuente's squad that will be announced on Friday for friendlies against Colombia on March 22 and Brazil four days later.

Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz, left, and Valencia's Diego Lopez battle...

Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz, left, and Valencia's Diego Lopez battle for the ball during the La Liga soccer match between Valencia and Real Madrid at the Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain, Saturday, March 2, 2024. Credit: AP/Jose Breton

Morocco coach Walid Regragui is expected to name his squad on Thursday for friendlies against Angola and Mauritania on the same dates.

Díaz began his senior career with Manchester City before joining Madrid in 2019. He also had a long loan spell at AC Milan from 2020-23.

Morocco defeated Spain in a penalty shootout in the last 16 at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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