Real Madrid’s José Callejón, a Los Blancos cantera-produced player, is not only one of the most underappreciated players in world football. He’s also a prototypical José Mourinho player.
This article will explain why Callejón typifies what Mourinho expects from his footballers and how it ties into the dynamics of The Only One’s Real squad.
With Los Merengues 13 points behind Barcelona, José has effectively conceded the La Liga title (from the Press Association via The Independent): “It's practically impossible.”
When José Callejón headed home unmarked for his second goal during Real Madrid's 4-1 win over Ajax, Dutch keeper Kenneth Vermeer must have been thinking: "!@#$...not him again!"
It was almost a year to the day that Callejón had scored a brace past Vermeer in a 3-0 win.
Whether it's getting the job done as a starter vs. Ajax, Dinamo Zagreb, Alcoyano or coming off the bench to poach goals against Mallorca, Atlético Madrid, Espanyol, APOEL, Athletic Bilbao or others—Callejón's demeanour hasn't changed in his two seasons for José Mourinho.
Callejón's zest to press opposing players, make darting runs, position himself in good goal scoring positions and run till he drops in every game he plays for the club makes him stand out.
It shows his passion for Real Madrid, the same club that forced him to take a detour to Espanyol, because Los Blancos have recently forgotten how to integrate their talented Castilla players into the first team (i.e. Juan Mata, Roberto Soldado, Borja Valero, Ádám Szalai and many more).
Callejón ditched the chance of being a star at the Catalan club to return to his boyhood club, Real Madrid, where it was made clear that he would be a role player.
What makes him such a refreshing player is that he doesn't have a grandiose view of himself like Nicklas Bendtner or El Hadji Diouf.
At the same time, Callejón is more than a competent player coming off the bench, because he'd be the main man for most La Liga teams.
Instead of dwelling on his situation being better, Callejón embraces the fact that he's a pivotal member of Mourinho's rotation system because it only works with selfless players.
Here's a classic Mourinho quote in response to then-Chelsea player Arjen Robben voicing his frustrations on being rotated (from the AFP via TheStar.com.my): "Of course, I am not going to change my mind. When he [Robben] says he doesn't want to sit on the bench, on Wednesday he will be on the bench."
From a team point of view, Callejón is the perfect and prototypical Mourinho squad player.
In terms of individualism, Callejón is loyal to a fault, since he'd be more successful if he wasn't so tied to Real Madrid.
Real Madrid and French international forward Karim Benzema once said about José Mourinho (from RTL via Goal.com): "I don't know how he does it. He has some sort of trick and everybody listens to him."
José Callejón, the Jorge Mendes-represented players and Michael Essien do, at least. The rest of the squad are pro-Sergio Ramos or Swiss-neutral in their stance.
Spanish football expert Guillem Balague documented the anonymous sources coming out of Real Madrid airing Mourinho's dirty laundry (via Sky Sports):
One of the things Mourinho said was 'why did you have to listen to one of the three rotten eggs that I have in my squad and not the 21 who are with me?' The fact that the squad is divided (admitted by Mourinho) and dealing with a Marca journalist, suggests that Jose Mourinho wanted this out anyway.
La Liga football writer Graham Hunter told Revista that Mourinho's outbursts were embarrassing certain members of his squad (via Sky Sports):
A year ago there was this big bust-up after two bad results and the players said it helped to clear the air. One of the petitions they gave to him [Mourinho], specifically, was fewer polemic outbursts and to try to concentrate on the training ground and less dragging the club through the muck.
Yet when he sat down, by his own invitation, with France Football he came out with this crazy phrase where he said 'it's not me that all the journalists in Spain are against, even those in Madrid, they're against Real Madrid itself'. That was a farcical statement which made the players laugh at him and helped sharpen the knives [in the media].
One of those rotten eggs is Ramos, who wore Mesut Özil's shirt underneath his own as a show of support for the German, who was subbed off by Mourinho.
If Ramos wasn't so insubordinate and had some humility—like Callejón—there wouldn't be such friction in the Real Madrid dressing room, which is a factor in their La Liga demise this season.
Yes, Mourinho's antics have been a PR nightmare for Real Madrid, but he is a two-time UEFA Champions League winning manager.
Don't forget that Real were in the Champions League wilderness for several years before Mourinho took over. Florentino Pérez's failed Galácticos project got rid of the team's most important player, Claude Makélélé, which doomed Los Blancos from the get-go.
Mourinho can only wish that all players were as obedient as Callejón, but they aren't. Especially a FIFA World Cup and Euro-winning player like Ramos, who is such an influential voice on the Real team.
The Portuguese manager's inability to control Ramos and those on the Spaniard's side will send the Special One back to the Premier League.
If José Mourinho is living on borrowed time at Real Madrid, the least the Special One can do is give José Callejón a permanent starting role.
Not just out of loyalty or professionalism—he's so much better than Ángel Di María right now.
"Right now" is the key, because the Argentine seems a different player after his injuries.
The former Benfica player has played 21 combined La Liga/UEFA Champions League games this season, but has scored twice and created four goals.
Callejón has scored and provided a combined six goals, like Di María, except JC has been a sub in 59 percent of those games
Di María turns over the ball 31.5 percent of the time in La Liga and 26.1 percent in the Champions League. Callejón's turnover rate of 16.1 percent in league play and 22 percent in UCL football is less of a liability than ADM.
Callejón to start over Di María permanently. Agree or disagree? Comment below.
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Statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com