Full Name: José Rodríguez Martínez
Team: Real Madrid
Position: Central Midfielder
Age: 18
Birth Date: December 16, 1994
Birth Place: Alicante, Spain
Height: 5 feet 11 inches

There is a common feeling amongst football fans that José Mourinho is a manager who neglects young players and doesn’t make use the cantera anywhere near enough, but having managed some of Europe’s biggest clubs, where pressure to succeed is huge and competition is at a maximum, it can be difficult to do so most of the time. However, it seems nobody told this to Real Madrid’s upcoming starlet José Rodríguez, who the Portuguese manager has taken a real shine to and given plenty of first team exposure in recent months.

Another misconception we’ve often read is that Real Madrid do not have a good youth set-up, but with talented B and C teams and a dominant Juvenil A outfit, you could argue that there’s is up there with the best in the country. José Rodríguez is one player who has really benefited from their set-up, and after starting last season with los Blanco’s Juvenil B, he has risen through the ranks rapidly, almost bypassing Real Madrid Castilla after just a few months with the main youth team, going on to score on his first team debut in the Copa del Rey vs. Alcoyano, becoming Real’s youngest ever player in the Champions League by making an appearance against Ajax, and even featuring as a late sub in the Madrid derby win vs. Atletico at the Bernabéu.

Jose Rodriguez

Not to be mistaken with forward Jesé, he first really came to prominence in the summer of 2011, when he was voted Most Valuable Player of the Under-17 Club World Cup, where Real Madrid were knocked out by Barcelona on penalties in the semi-final . In a deep midfield position, he stood out above all the rest, really dominating proceedings and showcasing his wide range of talents. Perfect technically, crisp and assured passing, strength and ‘arrogance on the ball’, something Mourinho supposedly loves, and great tactical intelligence, it was clear to all that he was a star in the making.

Still though, very few would have predicted the progress he would’ve made in the ensuing 18 months. It was clear in 2011/12 that youth football was not challenging enough for him, as he played in both Juvenil A and B, and excelled in either. Some thought he would spend this season in Segunda B, a very good level for his age, with Real’s C-team, but he went all the way to the Spanish second tier to Castilla, mainly playing second fiddle to the more established Álex Fernández, another very promising midfielder of similar profile.

His lack of action didn’t stop Mourinho though. We all know his problems with Castilla manager Alberto Toril and won’t go into them, but he fast-tracked José into his squads for some of the less important games, and the teenager didn’t disappoint, and perhaps most importantly, has showed the attitude and desire needed to make it at a club like Real Madrid. When it comes to the international scene, he featured sporadically for Spain’s Under-17′s a few years ago but will be a key figure in midfield for the U19′s in 2013, so be sure to watch him closely whether for La Rojita, Real Madrid Castilla or, just maybe, the first team in the coming 12 months. He could even go to the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey next summer should he continue to impress, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Watch José Rodríguez against Schalke 04:

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