Madrid (AFP) – Real boss Zinedine Zidane hopes Jese Rodriguez rediscovers the form that once made him the star of Madrid’s academy — but only after his return to the Santiago Bernabeu with Las Palmas on Wednesday.
Jese left Real Madrid for French champions Paris Saint Germain on a five-year deal in August for a reported 25 million euros ($27 million).
However, he scored just twice in 14 appearances and quickly fell down the pecking order for PSG’s Spanish coach Unai Emery before joining hometown club Las Palmas on loan in January.
“I like him a lot as a player and a person, and I hope that from Thursday it goes well for him at Las Palmas,” Zidane said on Tuesday.
When the Canary Islanders pushed the boat out to bring the 24-year-old forward back to La Liga at the end of January, qualifying for Europe was the aim.
Instead, Las Palmas have lost all four games to Granada, Sevilla, Malaga and Real Sociedad since signing Jese to slip to 12th and cap his miserable season so far.
A move away from Real was supposed to relaunch his career after the devastating effect of a cruciate knee ligament injury that cut short his breakthrough season in 2013/14 when Zidane was Madrid’s assistant coach to Carlo Ancelotti.
At the time Jese was one of the brightest young talents in world football with goals against Barcelona, Valencia, Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal that campaign putting him on the verge of a call-up to Spain’s 2014 World Cup squad.
“I think I would be an undoubted starter for Real Madrid (if it wasn’t for the injury). Of that I am sure,” Jese told Spanish sports daily Marca on Tuesday.
“The injury I had put the brakes on my career…from then on everything has been a lot harder.”
Despite going on to make 94 appearances for Madrid Jese’s career at the Bernabeu never recovered as he lived in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale and was ultimately usurped by the likes of Lucas Vazquez for first-team opportunities.
“He is a high-quality Spanish player who has always shown enormous potential,” said Zidane.
“It didn’t go as he would have wanted at PSG, maybe he did not have all the minutes to show what he could do.
“I wish him all the best from Thursday and hope that he regains his form because he is a great player.”
Substitutes Isco and Alvaro Morata made a huge impact as Real came from 2-0 down to beat Villarreal 3-2 on Sunday and they could be rewarded with starts on Wednesday as Zidane promised to rotate his squad once more.
Bale started the Real fightback by scoring on his first start for three months and the Welshman has been included in Zidane’s 19-man squad despite suffering a knock late on at the Ceramic Stadium.
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