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Why Real Madrid Starlet Jese Is Spain's Answer to Cristiano Ronaldo

Associated Press
Paul WilkesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2014

When Spain dominated matches due to sterile possession with seven or eight Barcelona players, there were a number of fans that suggested it was because Lionel Messi wasn't Spanish.

How good would the best international team of a generation be if they had a world-class individualistic player at the forefront?

Individually the Spanish team and many of those in reserve are the best in their position on the planet. They work within an ethos that means when in discussion it's hard not to include their fellow teammates.

Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas are all world-class players, but not in an egotistical way. The team relies more on the system than it does on their solo moments of excellence.

That's not to say a Messi or a Cristiano Ronaldo wouldn't enhance their chances further of staying atop the pile.

Real Madrid's young forward Jese Rodriguez is, of course, not at the same level of either of the aforementioned superstars, but he does display a number of characteristics with his Portuguese club colleague.

Nurture his talent in the right way and give him the right opportunities, then he could become one of the world's finest attackers.

He now has five goals in his last five starts in all competitions and when Ronaldo returns from suspension, then Carlo Ancelotti has a decision to make regarding his wingers.

"I am a coach, not an administrator," Ancelotti said when asked if Gareth Bale's price tag may play a part in his selection, via ESPN.

"I only talk about the football side of things. I am not surprised at Jese -- he is playing really well and scoring goals. We have all spoken a lot about him. I hope he carries on like this," mused Ancelotti.

Jese runs in a similar manner to Ronaldo, he skips past defenders with raw speed and has the strength to hold off incoming challenges when he wants to. His finishes this calendar year display an incredible amount of composure for someone in his debut season.

No amount of pressure seems to affect him, and he certainly has the nerve to play for his national side and deliver on the expectation.

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 08: Jese Rodriguez of Real Madrid CF scores their third goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Villarreal CF at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on February 8, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Get
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

As the reigning World and European champions, there's less of a necessity to take a gamble with your squad selection. Vicente Del Bosque does favour those who have previously performed so well, but the natural aging process means that there's room for the future.

The Brazilian Ronaldo traveled to USA in 1994 at the age of 17, whilst a youthful Michael Owen lit up France in '98 for England. It's only when the player hasn't even featured for his club side that the criticism will come, as Sven Goran Eriksson found out with his inclusion of Theo Walcott in 2002, via The Mirror.

The 20-year-old himself is not ruling out the possibility of a busy summer in Brazil: "I don’t know if it’s crazy, but it’s not impossible to go," Jese told Spanish newspaper AS, via Football Espana.

"There’s a generation of great footballers, who are the current world champions, and thank god Spanish football has improved so much. That said, I think it’s really difficult. That’s why it’s important to keep playing, be in the side regularly."

"The important thing is to keep making it difficult for the coach. Maybe I’m in the best form of my career, but I’m not settling for this, I want more," Jese declared confidently.

There are few wide men in world football in as good a form as Jese at present; even if he wasn't to feature in Brazil he would receive an amazing experience. Jese and his country would certainly profit from the judgment in the long term.

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