Rodrigo 22 Striker Benfica Spain
2013 has been…
About living for the summer. Prolific for Spain’s U21 side (15 goals in 16 appearances at the time of writing including a brilliant performance against Denmark where he scored 4 - his initial hat-trick in just 6 minutes) he was one of a number to impress in that side that walked their way to the European Championship title this summer in Israel. Fighting with Alvaro Morata for the central striking position in Spain’s front three he generally found himself second choice but did see plenty of game time in the tournament and scored Spain’s opener in their semi-final with Norway. Comparison is always flawed but at times he looked like Fernando Torres at his best, the pace and power taking him beyond defenders with ease, the finishing emphatic.
Away from the U21 squad and the unerring passing of Thiago, Isco, Koke and Illarramendi, club life has been harder. Goals have been tough to come by with Benfica and he’s spent far longer on the subs bench than he would have liked, nowhere near close enough to nudging Oscar Cardozo or Lima out of the first eleven. Often played out of position it’s all gone a little bit flat, the excitement dwindling at the same rate as his form. A recent last-minute winner in the Europa League against Anderlecht and another goal scored against Arouca should hopefully give him some confidence and we hope he puts on a run good enough to force his way into the first team.
If over the remainder of the season things don’t get going we would urge him to look for a season-long loan somewhere he’s going to get plenty of game time. He can more than look the part, so much so Tottenham remain very interested in bringing him to London at some point in the future, but at the moment we can’t help feeling he’d be a long way out of his depth in the Premier League.
All the raw materials are there and as a great joke once said, he can play all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order. Like any young striker he needs to play in the position he’s most comfortable for long enough to get himself into form, he scored 9 times in his first season at Benfica but looks a way short of being a double-figures striker at the moment. A small but significant rebuilding job needs to take place, he may not be match some of his U21 team mates over the course of his career but he can get close if he learns to adapt a bit better.
This all sounds negative but we don’t mean to be, it’s just the initial pops and bangs have died down and we’re left wanting a few more. The talent is there and his work rate has never dipped, we just hope he can get enough time on the pitch to find his best form.
“Quick, powerful and a good finisher, just not sure he’s at the right club to be honest. He can definitely play at a decent level but at Benfica he’s not going to get the run he needs to settle and find form, strikers need time on the pitch more than anyone else confidence wise, think he needs to go somewhere and get it” – David Hartrick, IBWM
"Since the start of last season, Rodrigo has scored ten league goals for Benfica; netting every 159 minutes." - Opta
C- Really great summer with the U21s, okay before and after. We just want a bit more of everything to be honest