Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Joselu lands in the capital as Real Madrid’s new centre-forward (Ld)

Spain international and recently crowned Nations League 2023 champion Joselu Mato has returned to Real Madrid, twelve years after he first left his boyhood club.

The striker, who spent two seasons at Real Madrid Castilla and made his first team debut under Jose Mourinho in 2011, lands in the capital after a stellar season at RCD Espanyol.

He is what many consider to be a pure ‘number 9’: a great finisher inside the box (his 15 goals inside the area were third most in LaLiga Santander last season), and he won the most aeriel duels of any player in the league (217). Despite being unable to prevent RCD Espanyol’s relegation to the second tier, Joselu finished the season as the league’s third top scorer with 16 goals (behind only Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema) and won the Zarra Award for most goals scored by a Spanish player.

Joselu needs no introduction to Real Madrid. Not only did he come through the ranks at the club but he is also brother-in-law to the team’s long-time full-back Dani Carvajal, with whom he played for the Castilla reserve side in 2010 – their partners are twin sisters!

He may be 33 years old – an unusual age for Real Madrid to sign a striker at – but he is currently playing the best football of his career, showing his experience and intelligence in front of goal week in, week out.

He has playing experience in Spain, Germany and England for 10 different teams, representing RC Celta, Real Madrid, Hoffenheim, Eintracht Frankfurt, Hannover 96, Stoke City, RC Deportivo, Newcastle United, Deportivo Alav├ęs and, most recently RCD Espanyol. His goalscoring stats have improved with age, breaking double digits in each of his last four seasons.

And beyond his peak performance in domestic competitions, look no further than his international career for a sign that he has reached his prime. He made his U21 debut for Spain in 2010, but after being overlooked by a succession of coaches over the past decade he was called up new coach Luis de la Fuente. Since his debut in March, he’s scored three times in just four appearances, including a brace on his debut against Norway.

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