21 Defender Celta Vigo Spain
The school of hard knocks in this particular instance was Celta Vigo’s B team and a struggle against relegation to the fourth tier of Spanish football in 2012. A tough introduction perhaps, but Jonathan Castro Otto showed enough during this period to persuade Paco Herrera that he should start the opening game of the 2012-13 season – the Galician’s first in La Liga for five years - at right back for the first team against Osasuna.
In all honesty, it’s almost easy to say that the rest, from this point, is history. Bar the odd minor blip Jonny has been the regular’s regular in Celta’s back four. Covering both full back slots with distinction and adding in the occasional hurrah at centre back, Jonny sporting a Celta shirt and displaying no shortage of competence has become one of the most familiar sights in Spanish football.
2015 has been…
Where do we go next?
Celta’s rise this calendar year has particularly impressive. A ninth place finish last season has been complimented by an excellent run recently which sees the team much closer to the summit of the table. Eduardo Berizzo has constructed an exceptional team and while the performances of messrs Nolito, Wass, Aspas and Hernández deserve as much credit as they are receiving, for us, the absolute gem, and possibly one of the most significant players for Spanish football for the next ten years, is Jonny Castro.
On a number of occasions across 2015 we’ve taken note of another strong display from Jonny. Each has secured a platform for Celta to go on and record a good result, of which there have been many of late. What continues to mystify us, however, is the apparent lack of attention/recognition that he receives in comparison to his peers. A cursory glance at the appropriate Opta data for this season tells its own story: Jonny has won more tackles than Diego Godin, he’s made more interceptions than Filipe Luis, delivered more successful passes than Raphael Varane and has created more chances than Jordi Alba – all having played just about the same amount of games. In short, Jonny isn’t just an outstanding player in his age group, he’s also one of the best players in his position in European football right now.
As things stand Celta are in great shape so the pressure to cash in on some of their stars isn’t an issue just now. Eventually though, this is going to be a factor and we cannot be alone in noting the rise of the young defender. On a separate report we’ve spoken in glowing terms on Athletic’s Aymeric Laporte and highlighted that a move is likely sooner rather than later for him. For us, Jonny is an equal billing and we would not be surprised in the slightest to see one of the big guns have a nibble in the months ahead.
We usually use this space to point out areas for development, and while a recent red card indicates rashness, it was a one off and not part of normal service. Other than that, there’s just the general refining and fine tuning that will inevitably come with experience. He really is that good.
B Jonny? B. (very, very) Good
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