BarcelonaIt was not in his presentation as white-and-blue. In fact, none of the people involved even mentioned his name. But the signing of Espanyol’s new goalscorer, Joselu (six goals in the first eight League games) bears the signature of the person who until a few months ago was the most responsible for the Spanish sports area: Joaquín Pérez, Do the laundry. The Alicante, heavily criticized for his management, left Espanyol through the back door after deciding not to accept the renewal proposal offered to him by Chen Yansheng. Before doing so, however, he managed to close the arrival of the player who has become the great hope of the white-and-blue this year. Joselu will be the main Spanish threat this Sunday against Valladolid (6:30 p.m., GOL).
The first contacts with the player, after New Year’s, served to know if he intended to renew with Alabès and to show him the course of the white-and-blue project. One of the strong points of the former Spanish sports director, explain some people who have dealt with him in recent years, is his ability to seduce footballers. This is proven by the fact that he managed to keep RDT, Embarba and Cabrera in spite of the relegation to Segona. “It wasn’t easy at all”, sources who participated in the negotiations point out to the ARA.
With Joselu, patient and silent work was also necessary. After four or five conversations with the punta, Rufete convinced him to choose the proposal of the parakeet set over the rest of the proposals received. There were numerous teams attentive to the situation of the player, who was ending his contract with Alabès: at least five in Primera and a few more abroad willing to significantly improve his salary. Rufete, however, knew how to be in the right place and at the right time to anticipate a market opportunity. A strategy that he also repeated with Brian Oliván and that Espanyol hopes to be able to maintain in future signing windows. Lack of resources, foresight and ingenuity.
Espanyol was the first club to bet strongly on Joselu and sent him a firm offer. The player did not prioritize the money, but the trust shown by Espanyol through Rufete. Being able to feel important in a historic club, having family stability in a city like Barcelona, the values of Espanyol and the knowledge of the atmosphere in the dressing room through witnesses like that of Fernando Calero, with whom he shares an agent, are some of the reasons that led the attacker to opt for the white-and-blue offer.
Joselu was the first choice of the sports management to strengthen the forward. The fact that he could arrive free forced him to anticipate other economically more powerful teams. “Otherwise we would not have been able to pay, either through a transfer or an assignment, a striker of his profile and figures”, admit club sources. Incorporating Joselu and Brian Oliván meant protection for the club in the event that it fulfilled the plans it had in mind: sell RDT and Pedrosa to be able to redo the squad. A plan that was twisted by the injury of the second, who is still at the club despite not having renewed, and by the fact that the agreement for the transfer of the first was closed out of time.
Reports to Chen, in Chinese
Joselu’s was a strategic signing in many ways, beyond the price: “It is better that we have him than a direct rival like Celta, Mallorca or Valencia”, say sources familiar with the operation. Signing him, however, was not at all easy. Rufete, to whom Chen Yansheng had already knocked down some signing proposals, presented the club owner with a report translated by Mao Ye into Chinese detailing the various reasons justifying Joselu’s inclusion. Among the arguments he presented was the fact that, with him, Espanyol would have Spain’s fashionable forward pair (with the permission of Iago Aspas). In addition, in the event that RDT ended up leaving, as it happened, the club would have their shoulders covered with a guaranteed striker.
The reports drawn up by the sports area recommended signing Joselu for two major sporting factors. The first, the goal-scoring aspect. Despite having broken out late in this facet, he had not dropped from 11 goals in the three courses played at Alabès. The second, the enormous ease of winning duels: he was the player with the most disputes won in the last three Leagues. The club’s sports area considered this last fact fundamental to allow an evolution in the game model.
Joselu had come to see with great enthusiasm the possibility of signing for Valencia, with whom he had advanced talks, but Rufete’s intervention was providential: the Alicante, well acquainted with the situation of the Valencian club, knew redirect the Mestalla player towards Cornellà-El Prat. The Alicante player knew how to play his cards and warned Joselu that Valencia would not decide on their new striker until they had locked in the new coach. The Valencian club sealed Gattuso’s arrival in the second week of June, but Cavani didn’t until August 29.
By then, however, Joselu had already reached an agreement with Espanyol months ago. The white-and-blue club did not wait to have Diego Martínez tied up to close his incorporation. The bet is paying off: Joselu is the second top scorer in this League, only surpassed by Lewandowski (8 goals) and the first in terms of duels won in total (8.75 per game) and through the air ( 6 per duel). Rufete’s last spell at Espanyol marks his best start to goalscoring since Rafa Marañón’s 7 goals in the first eight games in the 1979-80 season.