The first contract of Uruguayan Jonathan Rodríguez (Florida, 27 years old) was worth a net of soccer balls. The payment, as a loan, opened the possibility of playing in Peñarol, the soccer player factory in Uruguay. Jona He had fulfilled the destiny of the players of his country: to debut young and emigrate to any team in Europe. The forward, despite his goalscoring genes, could not make a place for himself. Its explosion occurred in Mexico, away from the spotlight in Uruguay and in the shadow of Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani.
The Little headNicknamed that from his childhood, he ran from the press when he was a youth. He did not like to have contact with the journalists and preferred to go on to the team truck. Benfica hired Rodríguez on a loan and with a purchase option. The Portuguese club wanted to turn the Uruguayan into another of its great deals, such as Ángel Di María (sold to Real Madrid for 33 million euros) or João Félix (Atlético paid 126 million euros). Rodríguez could not dazzle and they sent him to the youth team.
In 2014, despite everything, he was called up by coach Óscar Washington Tabárez to play for the Uruguayan team. The team could not count on Luis Suárez, suspended with four months without playing and with nine games away from the celeste. That opened the door for him to play his first 61 minutes against Saudi Arabia. He played less than 10 minutes in the 2015 Copa América and took three years to be considered again by maestro Tabárez.
There were no goals from Jonathan Rodríguez at Deportivo. He was loaned out in 2015 to try to give the team a spirited blow, but the Uruguayan left without goals and with a bad taste in his mouth among the fans. After an 8-0 defeat against Barça a photograph was taken with his daughter and Luis Suárez. The fans reproached him for the act and Cabecita had to apologize: “It is a memory that I simply want to keep. Sorry if it bothered you, this goes beyond the team ”.
Benfica did not want to validate Rodríguez’s purchase option, who was heading back to Peñarol until Santos Laguna, in Mexico, signed him for 3.5 million euros. In his first season he again enjoyed scoring goals, with 13 on the campaign. In 2018 he commanded the lagoon team to win their sixth title. That trail of success earned him to be signed by Cruz Azul, then the most unfortunate club in Mexico that could not be league champion in more than two decades. His movement was seen as reckless and they did not predict him to be champion again after the history of defeats, some unlikely, of Cruz Azul. In his first short tournament he had a goal drought with just one touchdown in 18 games. In 2020 he finished the regular tournament as the best scorer in the Mexican championship. Their joy ended when they eliminated the team in the semifinals despite winning the first leg 4-0 against the Pumas. In the return leg they beat them 4-0, global tie 4-4, which denied Blue to play a final again.
The controversy hovered over Little head Rodríguez in the middle of a pandemic. In the media and social networks, a video was leaked in which the Uruguayan striker, dressed in the Cruz Azul uniform, was seen at a private party. He was sanctioned by the club and the agony of being champions was lengthening. In 2021 the goals of Jona They were key for Cruz Azul to finish the regular tournament as leader and, in the league, reach the final against Santos Laguna, the club that brought him to Mexico. The goal of the final advantage was scored by Rodríguez, on the mythical field of the Azteca stadium, to exorcise the demons of a team that lost six League finals and could not be champion in more than 23 years.
“Jonathan has great conditions, what happens is that it is not so easy to get out of a medium like Mexican football that pays very well, it goes more through a personal decision of wanting to succeed in Europe, as it is doing in Mexico”, Diego Forlán, former Uruguayan figure and captain, said a few months ago. Rodríguez was called by Tabárez to play the Copa América to reinforce the offense. The Uruguayan moment is called Jonathan Rodríguez.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.