Apologies for the substantial Villarreal focus today (I’ve always been rather partial to a bit of El Submarino Amarillo), but I felt compelled to write about a young player who really grabbed my attention in the clash with Espanyol yesterday evening.
Introduced by Juan Carlos Garrido for his first team debut mid-way through the second half, 21 year-old Ecuadorian attacking midfielder Jefferson Montero impressed with his tenacious and technically proficient wing play.
As a long-distance follower of Villarreal, I had heard whispers of Montero’s ability through the reputation that built up around him as a result of his performances for Villarreal B last season. However, the obviously great extent of his talent was arguably well above even the high expectations many have of him.
Matched up against Espanyol right back Javi Chica, Montero terrorised the former Spain U-20 international and gave Villarreal more pace and incision than that offered by Borja Valero – who, incidentally, also had an excellent game but is a very different player.
El Submarino‘s fourth goal came as a result of an excellent combination between Montero and fellow substitute Cani out wide, the Ecuadorian’s pace seeing him get in behind Chica to the by-line and square the ball to put the goal at Nilmar’s mercy.
Just minutes later Montero’s trickery led to Chica scything him down, likely out of frustration at his inability to get anywhere near the young winger. The Espanyol full-back was issued a straight red as the Periquitos’ misery was compounded.
Montero may be familiar to readers who keep a keen eye on the South American game – he plied his trade in his homeland from 2007-2009 and has ten caps for Ecuador – but last night was his bow in a European top flight and he made a lasting impression.
Granted, he may have been introduced against a beleaguered Espanyol team, but that should not detract from the explosiveness of the play he demonstrated last night.
An exciting talent, Montero has expressed a desire to join his fellow countryman Antonio Valencia at Manchester United in the future and, such is his ability, he could well have a bright future ahead of him at the top level of European football.