The striker earned a comparison to Cristiano Ronaldo during his stay at the Blancos Academy, but problems with fitness and off the field hit him hard
Alberto Toril is a man who knows the work of Real Madrid like everyone else.
Formerly the manager of the club academy, then the coach of the C team, and later the reserve team of Los Blancos, Castilla, he saw hundreds of young talents coming and going.
Looking back, he has no doubt about the most talented player to go through the system during the Santiago Bernabeu: Jesse Rodriguez.
“He had everything. He was physically gifted: strong, fast, powerful, agile. Also, technically. At that age, you already saw different things in him, ”Toril, addressing exclusively for Goal , says of the former miracle worker.
Jesse graduated from the Madrid academy, a player of intense talent who caught the eye of every coach at the club, not just Toril.
“I had to see all the boys every day,” he continues. “Jesse was in the Cadet category and everyone talked about him. Everyone said that if he continued to progress, he would be important.
“Since he could see many plays in a short amount of time and then decide quickly, he quickly differed from the other boys. With the ball in his feet, at full speed, he made good decisions. He had a lot of performances in mind. ”
Born in Las Palmas, Jesse was interested in Barcelona, but signed for Real at the age of 14.
He made his senior debut in 2011 for Castilla, and was quickly compared to Cristiano Ronaldo.
A versatile striker, he played as a ‘fake nine’ in Castilla, but on the wing in the youth ranks, often changing flanks during matches.
Direct, technically appropriate, and with a desire for purpose, there was much to suggest that he might be the longtime successor to the Portuguese master.
Those early comparisons, however, had a hard time affecting the young star, Toril believes, as well as the pitches, not only did he become a teenage father.
“The thing is that he arrived very young. He reached Castilla when he belonged to the category of minors at the age of 17.
“He was just thinking about football, but at the end of the year he had his first child and that changed his personality. He became a little more mature and feels he has more responsibility.”
Nevertheless, Jesse’s ascent continued. He was promoted to the first team for the 2011-12 campaign, and made his debut at senior Real at the age of 18 on 12 December 2011, replacing Ronaldo in the last 15 minutes of the Copa del Rey match.
However, a significant block stood in his way to the first team: the manager.
Jose Mourinho felt that Madrid played differently from Castilla and that they had no room for a player in Jesse’s position – regardless of his adaptability.
Jesse was not happy and gave an interview to Marca In 2013, he complained about the lack of time to play, as well as the fact that Mourinho did not provide an opportunity for young people. It was a sign of things to come.
Toril feels that Mourinho’s stubbornness played a major role, saying: “Our function was to explain to Mourinho the players with opportunities who were on the other team, and Jese was the one we talked about the most. We also talked to him about it [Dani] Carvajal, [Alavaro] Morata and Nacho.
“Many times, coaches from the first team do not like to be talked to, but rather find out for themselves.
“In the first team, Jesse clashed a bit with Mourinho’s personality. I don’t know if Mourinho was unfair to him, but coaches like to discover young talent from below without being talked about.”
Mourinho left Real Madrid in the summer of 2013 and was replaced by Carlo Ancelotti, while at the same time Jesse signed a new contract worth more than a million euros a year and which contained a dismissal clause of 200 million euros.
Ancelotti, unlike his predecessor, was a fan and began to properly integrate Jesse into the senior team. According to Toril, the Italian was left with very little choice.
“At the age of 18, 19, still very young, he already dominated in Segunda. The progress has been tremendous.
“After a short time, it was already being discussed whether he should be a starter instead [Gareth] Bale. Ancelotti was practically forced to put him in front of Bale, so imagine the shows he held.
“Unfortunately, he had a serious injury.”
On March 18, 2014, Jesse suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury to his knee; a complete tear that kept him out for nine months.
That pushed him to the edge of the first team, and although he made 23 appearances when he returned in 2014-15, there are only three starts.
The next campaign did not go much better under Rafe Benitez, then Zinedine Zidane, and, although he was a player for the two sides that won the Champions League, he eventually had to leave, joining Paris Saint-Germain in a € 20m contract 17 million pounds / $ 22 million) in summer 2016.
“[Edinson] Cavani is a great player, but I am not a replacement, “said the bull Jese The Parisians upon his arrival. “We all have to fight to keep our place on the team. I come here with a desire to play in every game, even though I know there are great players in Paris.”
The Spanish Under-21 international struggled to convince Unai Emery of his abilities, but by the middle of the first season he was already being talked about as a potential signing loan for another club.
“Liverpool, Milan and Roma want Jesse and are willing to pay what they earn. We can’t afford that salary,” said Las Palmas president Miguel Angel Ramirez. The Provinces in January 2017 in the middle of a report Jesse could even return to his home club.
“He wants to come to Las Palmas, but he is owned by PSG and earns a salary that is at his level – and that is very high.”
Jesse was always close with his family. He has his parents’ names tattooed on his arms, and he promised his father that he would be able to retire when he succeeds in football; something that followed the day his son signed his first professional Real contract.
As he continued unsuccessfully to try to break the first team at the Parc des Princes, Jesse eventually returned home in January 2017, joining Las Palmas on a short-term loan.
This proved to be the first of four temporary moves he made during his time at PSG, as Jese also endured a short stay at Stoke City, Real Betis and Sporting CP before his 2020 release.
“At PSG, it was difficult for him to find his place again, to reach the level he had before,” says Torril, stating how much time Jesse spent out of the game while he was injured in Madrid due to his fights down the line.
“He had difficulties with the infection, which meant that it was not a standard recovery. When you don’t play for that long, it costs you a lot. “
As he traveled Europe in search of form, Jesse’s private life became a factor in his playing career.
During his stay in Stoke during the 2017-18 campaign, he was forced to return to the Canary Islands several times after his third son, Nyan, was born prematurely, before being given unpaid compassionate leave in May.
He had problems on the pitch and during his time in the Premier League, including leaving the stadium early after being unused in one game, before facing Charlie Adam who was denied a penalty in another.
Still, Jesse has never lacked in confidence, welcoming comparisons to Ronaldo when he joined his former teammate’s first club, Sporting, although he has so far paid as much attention to his ambitious music career as to his daily work.
The 28-year-old has released singles as a solo reggae artist called Jey M, and is a member of the band Big Flow.
Toril feels that this distraction would never show that he knelt down and fought for his place at Real.
“When he left Madrid, his life changed, with other hobbies like music,” he says. “It started to distort his life in football terms. That put him in the position he is in now. “
Earlier this year, Jesse returned to Las Palmas permanently after his contract in Paris was terminated, amid reports that he had violated Covid-19 regulations to cheat on his partner with one of her friends.
The plan is to renew his career in a familiar environment, but now there is little doubt that Jesse’s supreme talent is the one that has failed.
“If you treat him carefully, he is a modest, kind and affectionate boy,” Toril concludes. “He is nothing of what he conveys outside.
“It is true that he led a messy life, which is obvious, but then he was very close with people.
“Of the young men I’ve seen, he’s the most talented.”
Additional reporting by Mario Cortegan