It’s not often that Real Madrid produce a youth product which makes all of Europe’s clubs salivate, but young Jese Rodriguez has taken the role of the club’s brightest starlet and will surely lead Los Blancos’attack for years to come. Miran Saric has this Scout Report on him.
Who is Jese?
At the start of the season, Real Madrid fans were giddy at the thought of so many young, talented Spanish youngsters joining the team. Isco and Asier Illarramendi came in on big money deals, while Dani Carvajal returned from a loan as Alvaro Morata finally cemented his first team status. However, it was Real Madrid cantera’s mercurial winger who had the entire organization buzzing. At no point was this more evident than when the youngster scored a wonder goal against Alcocorn last summer which broke Real Madrid Castilla’s single-season record and had the president, who was in attendance, on his feet. High praise from someone who much more values high-prices established stars over the organization’s own youth.
While Jese had made short first team appearances prior to last season, and was the source of a bit of controversy as he stated that he felt he was good enough for first team action much to the dismay of past manager Alberto Toril, it wasn’t until October of last season that he got his permanent place in the first team. Even though Madrid lost the first Clasico, Jese endeared himself to the fans by scoring against Barca in the dying minutes of the game. From there, the goals flowed as he scored against strong clubs such as Atletico Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Espanyol and Valencia. Not only was he a threat against the smaller sides, he showed a strong element of big-time poise and control when the lights were the brightest.
Unfortunately for him and Real Madrid, he was brought down by a strong tackle in the Champions league second leg against Schalke and was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The diagnosis was 6-9 month of rehab which would put him on track to return in mid to late October and given recent promising reports, he’ll be returning on the short end of said diagnosis. Given that Real Madrid has been on a downright terrifying scoring outburst of late, the idea of adding someone as pacey and clinical as Jese will only serve to make Madrid’s offense an even more overwhelming favorite versus most defenses.
Midway through last season, Jese was on pace to potentially overtake Bale as a starter even in Madrid’s biggest games. However, that brutal knee injury sapped him of this opportunity and the start to the 2014-2015 season. However, his natural talent and will to overcome this setback could prop him back to the near-starter level he was approaching in the past and he’ll certainly get his opportunities given the large amount of competitions and games that Real Madrid will take part in.
As far as fans of other clubs, don’t expect Madrid to part with this starlet any time soon as he’s the brightest prospect they’ve had in years and has the potential to truly be a once-in-a-generation talent. He’ll have tough competition as Cristiano Ronaldo is a lock to start when healthy, so Jese’s opening will have to be on the right side where Gareth Bale resides and potentially at the striker spot where Karim Benzema is prone to dry spells. However, given Carlo Ancelotti’s trust in him and his enormous potential, it’s hard not to see him as the future of Real Madrid for years to come no matter where he’s featured.
Style, Strengths and Weaknesses
When watching Jese, and especially when he takes off in a full gallop, it’s simply impossible not to see a young Cristiano Ronaldo. From the cocky aggressiveness with the ball, to the sheer power and pace with which he runs, to the uncanny running motion which resembles the Portuguese, Jese clearly models his game after the world’s biggest star, having even listed the superstar as his idol.
When he’s on the pitch, Jese possesses such speed that he’s instantly one of the fastest players in the game. However, what separates his speed from that of someone like Bale, Jese is much more comfortable in tight spaces and doesn’t need large swaths of openings in front of him to be effective. A technical dribbler with a keen eye for his teammates, he’s equally as strong a passer as he is a finisher in front of goal as he completed 83 percent of his passes in the league last season while having a shot accuracy of 61 percent leading to a conversion rate of 27.8 percent. In 18 appearances last season, he’s scored eight goals while contributing four assists so opposition has to be way of both his shooting as well as his creation for others. While he’s not a distance shooter like Ronaldo or Bale, he’s potentially better than either at positioning in the box and finishing when the opportunity presents itself. He’s right-footed so ideally he would be played on the left wing where he’d have a chance to cut in and fire on goal, but his natural instinct to find gaps in the defense allows him to be a dangerous poacher from the right side as well, not to mention the striker role where his excellent off-ball movement could open gaps for wide players to cut in.
Jese is also incredibly composed for someone of his age. He’s only picked up two cards and he’s only averaged .8 dispossessions per game, signs of someone mature enough to be an impact player. It would appear that given his fantastic passing rate and creativity that he’d excel as a traditional #10, when he’s actually blessed with the skills of a wide attacker. It’s this kind of versatility which sets him apart from his main competition for minutes, Bale, and even makes him a somewhat more well-rounded threat for oppositions to worry about. As mentioned, Bale needs room to run in order to be devastating while Jese is much more adept at unlocking defenses in La Liga given his knowledge of spacing, knowledge which is far beyond his young years.
As far as weaknesses, the only notable area in the opposition half where he can improve is in heading the ball. As he’s only 5’10 and 161 pounds, he likely won’t be finding himself on the receiving end of many aerial balls, joining a long list of Spanish attackers more comfortable on the ground than on the air. However, he’s so potent and adept on the ground with the ball, not to mention quite sturdy for his size and having a low center of gravity, that his deficiencies in the air can be easily overlooked and can be masked by taller attackers around him. Additionally, he’s much more of a forward than a traditional so his crossing game needs work, as evidenced by his crossing rate of .1 per game last season.
For fans, defense at Real Madrid has always been a secondary concern behind offensive output, but that doesn’t mean that Jese couldn’t stand to refine this aspect of his playing style as well. Last season, he averaged slightly over a half tackle per game while only contributing .2 interceptions. Though defensive metrics are a developing field, they do show that he’s not someone who’ll make a huge defensive impact. He’ll show a fair amount hustle in tracking back but, like Ronaldo, he’ll spend more time in the oppositions half in order to unleash one of his blistering runs at the opposition. Some of this has to do with the system in place, but his on-ball defense will hopefully come with age.
Here’s what Nicholas Rigg, La Liga correspondent for ESPNFC, writer for the Independent and currently working for AS English, told Outside of the Boot about Jese Rodriguez. Follow him on Twitter @nicholasrigg
The progress of Jesé Rodriguez was rapid last season and it was a blow for Real Madrid to lose him for the closing stages of the season given the impact he enjoyed on the team. That impact was such that fans were calling for him to become a regular starter despite the success of the
He surpassed previous fans’ favourite Alvaro Morata in Carlo Ancelotti’s thoughts and was comfortable playing down the right or left, while also offering a realistic alternative through the middle. He contributed goals and assists in equal measure and played with an old head on young shoulders.
Such a serious injury at a young age has left many Madridistas wondering if Jesé will reach the heights that had him catching the attention of Spain coach Vicente del Bosque last season, but if he does, he should be one Madrid youth product that makes the grade in the first team.
Written by Miran Saric
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