Norman Riley ha been speaking to German & Spanish journalists on exactly what we should expect from our latest addition. Norman also gives true faith the facts and history of the big Spanish striker.
Rafa’s latest addition to our rapidly expanding Spanish contingent is the 6 feet 3.5 inches German born centre forward Joselu or, to give him his full name, José Luis Sanmartín Mato. The Mato at the end translates in to English as ‘I kill’ but I I’m confident we don’t have to take that literally and I’m hopeful that, at £5 million, the club has got itself an absolute bargain. Only time will tell of course but, as with the signing of Manquillo, we have a player who clearly hasn’t fulfilled the undoubted early promise he showed. However, the fact that Rafa has shown faith in him, and a look back at his non-Stoke career, would suggest that he could, with the right coaching, have something positive to offer.
His youth football and first couple of senior team appearances were made with Celta de Vigo, a club based in the Galicia region of Spain where he was brought up after moving there as a kid with his Spanish parents. Real Madrid obviously saw something they liked and took him from Celta at the age of 19. He was immediately shifted to their B team, Castilla, and he formed a productive partnership with Alvaro Morata, scoring an impressive 40 goals in 72 appearances in what is the equivalent of the English League One over the course of 2 seasons.
His only 2 appearances in Real’s 1st team yielded 2 goals but aged 22 he was on his way from Real to Hoffenheim in Germany. His 3 seasons in Germany saw him score 29 in 90 appearances so whilst not prolific certainly nothing to be sniffed at when you consider each season was spent with a different mid-table Bundesliga side.
His season at Hannover 96 during the 2014-15 season led to performances of a high enough standard to earn him a £5.75 million move to Stoke City and Tobias Krause, a Hannover 96 fan and journalist reporting on the club in Germany, tells TF that he was one of the best forwards in the Club’s history. Tobias went on to tell us that his technique was formidable and that whilst he didn’t score a load of goals this was more down to the quality of his team mates (he banged in 9 goals before Christmas but only 1 after the winter break as Hannover’s form dipped) than his finishing ability. He was often isolated up front in a 4321 formation and his effectiveness in the air wasn’t exploited as the team simply weren’t getting enough of the ball in to the opposition box.
According to Tobias he was well liked at Hannover by the fans as he fought and gave 100% for most of his time there although the money Stoke paid for him was viewed as a good piece of business by the club. Finally, Tobias reckons that he wouldn’t be effective as a lone striker and that he’d struggle against Premier League defenders if asked to play in that role.
So, from Hannover to Stoke and obviously the fact that Stoke have sold him to us for what is now an incredibly low fee when compared to other PL prices would suggest that he’s simply not fancied there and his time at the Potters could be judged as unsuccessful. He spent last season at Deportivo La Coruña back in his home region of Galicia as Hughes clearly wasn’t impressed enough with him during the 2015-16 season.
Xurxo Fernández, a Depor reporter with the region’s biggest selling newspaper, La Voz de Galicia, was kind enough to answer TF’s questions.
TF: On arriving at Depor at the start of the 2016-17 season was Joselu seen as a replacement for the recently departed Lucas Pérez? How was his arrival perceived by the Depor fans?
XF: He was never seen as a direct replacement for him given that they’re 2 completely distinct players in terms of their playing styles. Initially his arrival was met with excitement as Depor needed to strengthen their attack and he was remembered for his excellent record at Castilla.
TF: What type of striker is he? What does he offer?
XF: His strengths are in playing with his back to the goal as well as being a target man in the box. He likes to bring wingers and attacking midfielders in to play and he’s a good finisher. He’d struggle in a team that demanded he look to exploit spaces behind the defence as he’s not quick enough to play that role. Additionally, he’s also very useful in causing problems when attacking free-kicks and corners. Given his abilities he can certainly be an impactful player especially if he’s played alongside another attacker able to exploit the gaps and finish due to the space that he’ll inevitably create.
TF: Why didn’t Depor try to sign him permanently once his loan expired?
XF: Unfortunately, his effectiveness at the business end of the season wasn’t what was hoped for and certain sections of the support questioned his attitude.
TF: Finally, with Benitez’s guidance, do you think that he has the potential to prove an effective acquisition in the Premier League for Newcastle?
XF: Understanding how Benitez sets his teams up there’s definitely the potential for him to fit in, as long as the manager shows belief in him and he feels like he’s a valued member of the squad.
So, whilst this new addition hasn’t captured the collective imagination, as with Rafa’s previous relatively low-key signings, he could prove to be very useful and for the price that’s been paid hopefully the Club has got itself a bargain. I’m hoping he’s hungry to prove any doubters wrong and to give himself one last push for success after a real stop-start career so far. Welcome to Newcastle United Football Club.
Huge thanks to Tobias Krause @Buje78 and Xurxo Fernández @xurxoff for their help with this article.
Norman Riley follow Norman on @LikeTheGoat