SportsJoselu Mato, on loan for a year to Real Madrid

    Joselu Mato, on loan for a year to Real Madrid

    Joselu celebrates his goal against Italy in the semifinals of the League of Nations.
    Joselu celebrates his goal against Italy in the semifinals of the League of Nations.Martin Meissner (APS)

    Joselu Mato for Spain and also for Madrid. After an erratic career, two consecutive relegations (Alaves and Espanyol) and at 33 years old, the age at which most of his colleagues think about how to manage the final stage of their careers at home, the forward is experiencing an unforeseen explosion . Scorer with La Roja (three goals in four games) and now recruited at the Bernabeu to cement a white attack that had been left with hardly any pieces. The club announced this Monday the incorporation of him on loan for a season with a purchase option, from Espanyol, a team with which he had just fallen to Second. In just a few weeks he has gone from the mousetrap of the silver division to Valdebebas, where he came from 11 seasons ago as the top scorer for a good Castilla.

    A decade later, Joselu closed an unusual circle in Madrid that took him to the three major European championships (Bundesliga, Premier and Leagues) although in lower-middle-tier teams, and with difficulties until recently to settle in a locker room. But since the twists and turns of football are so unfathomable, the same course in which he fell off a cliff in Cornellà despite his 17 goals ends him as the main protagonist of the team and returning to the Bernabeu.

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    His name was already in the sketches for the next campaign as that forward in the closet that Madrid did not have in recent seasons due to Mariano’s inconsequentiality. Now, the departure of Karim Benzema and the unknown, two months after the closing of the market, of how the club will solve the gap for the French open the range even more for this striking and powerful striker in the air (1.92).

    At the Bernabeu he will meet again with Lucas Vazquez, Carvajal and Nacho, his teammates from the last Castilla who rose to the Second Division in 2012 (this Sunday, Raul Gonzalez’s team will try again against Eldense; 1-1 in the first leg) . In that subsidiary, he was the top scorer (26 goals), well ahead of Alvaro Morata (17) and Jese (11). However, his fate was the sale in one of those cash register operations of the white club with the quarry. Six million was paid by the German Hoffenheim for him, who had barely played 18 minutes with the first team. Plenty of time to score two goals, against Ponferradina in the Cup and against Almeria in the League.

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    There began an itinerant path without excessive revenue that led him to six teams in seven seasons, from the three main championships: Hoffenheim, Eintracht, Hannover, Stoke City, Deportivo and Newcastle. A continuous move reflects his difficulties in leaving his mark. Only at Eintracht (14 goals) and Hannover (10) was he able to bill the goals that are required of a guy like him.

    In his first experience in the Premier, in 2015, he met Bojan Krkic at Stoke, with whom he developed a good relationship (as with Marc Muniesa) that he still maintains. The recently retired Barcelona youth squad remembers him as a “very ambitious” footballer who “has always liked to take care of himself”. At Stoke, however, he did not find his place (four goals). “He arrived at a time of game changer and it was difficult for him to enter”, explains Bojan on the other end of the phone. “The team was characterized by the long game and the coach wanted to play more football. It was quite a radical turn. He arrived in that transition and they did not give him the continuity that he expected, ”he adds. Stoke had paid eight million for him to Hannover (who had paid five a year earlier), but 12 months later they loaned him to Deportivo, where he didn’t catch on either: little presence and only six goals, although three went to Madrid and another to Barcelona. “At that moment, Rafa Benitez arrived at Newcastle and he wanted it”, says Bojan. Second attempt in England, and water: seven goals in two seasons.

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    Until, already 29 years old, his career began to draw an upward curve in the warmth of home. After seven almost uninterrupted courses outside of Spain, his luck turned the corner at Alaves. First, because he finally managed to lay the egg in one place (three years in a row) and because in that three-year period he always finished with more than a dozen goals per season. In the previous four, his statistics had languished: 17 goals in total.

    His good figures in Mendizorroza kept him in the First Division despite the relegation of Alaves. Espanyol called him up and in the season just ended he reached his best numbers in professional football: 17 goals in a decomposing team. The gateway to the national team after the Luis Enrique stage and his return to the Bernabeu. Two consecutive relegations later, at the age of 33 and after having gone through nine clubs in 12 seasons. It was never too late for Joselu Mato.

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    Source: EL PAIS

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