Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Leandro Rodriguez: Roberto Martinez's 'street footballer' who failed to make the grade at Everton

Back in September 2015, Everton made a move to sign an exciting Uruguayan talent by the name of Leandro Rodriguez. As reported by the Liverpool ECHO, the Toffees spent around £500,000 to lure Rodriguez away from River Plate Montevideo. 

He was quickly identified as being a player with first-team potential by manager Roberto Martinez. The then Everton boss was in no doubt that Rodriguez was set to become a prominent player at Goodison Park. 

“Leandro is ahead of his development but he needs space and time to get used to the physicality of the British game so nothing has changed for him,” Martinez told the press, as relayed by The Guardian, in September 2015. “What has surprised me is how quickly he’s adapted to being effective here…

“Nothing has changed with the target we have for Leandro. He’s a street footballer because he takes what the defender gives you.”

Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Immediate comparisons were being made to another bullish Uruguayan striker who had left Merseyside a year previously but, unfortunately for Everton, Leandro Rodriguez never became their very own Luis Suarez. 

After a brief dalliance with the first-team Rodriguez was sent to Brentford where he was new boss Dean Smith’s first signing in March 2016 which ended prematurely after a hamstring injury. 

Unfortunately for Rodriguez, his career at Everton continued to be snakebitten with the departure of Martinez. The Spaniard held him in such high regard that it was his personal recommendation which saw Rodriguez join Belgian side Waasland-Beveren on loan in 2017. Martinez, as Belgium’s national boss, vouched for Rodriguez, as reported by the club’s official website. But it was even less successful than his spell at Griffin Park, with Rodriguez failing to make a single appearance

It was becoming clear that Rodriguez was a Martinez project and with the Spaniard no longer in the dugout at Everton, he needed to leave.

Rodriguez left Everton in 2017, heading back to Uruguay and joining one of the nation’s most famous sides, Danubio. 

Since then, Rodriguez has played for two other Montevideo based teams in Torque and Racing Club before heading to Mexico in 2019, joining Alebrijes de Oaxaca. 

Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Last October, following his release by the Mexican side in June, Rodriguez returned to Danubio where he is still waiting to score his first goal after seven appearances.

Unfortunately, despite his handy Italian passport, it seems that Rodriguez’s career in Europe will never be resurrected given his career since leaving Everton. 

It seems that he was something of a punt from Martinez and the Everton recruitment team which simply failed to work out. 

Hopefully, Rodriguez can find success in his homeland in what should be the best years of his career.

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