Jesus Vallejo has had a strange career. His abilities have shone through many times for different clubs. But just when he is about to reach the next level, injuries have held him back every single time.
Currently loaned out to Wolves, the defender has played only twice in the Premier League. But he is hardly a part of the picture at Nuno Santo’s side. He has made three Europa League appearances. But none of them have come in the group stages of the competition.
The Spaniard has though, played in both of the club’s League Cup games against Aston Villa and Reading. The going has been tough, but Vallejo has played a bit more regular football this month than he did before in England.
He played the full 90 minutes of the club’s 5-2 loss to Chelsea. He also played 72 minutes of Wolves’ 1-1 draw against Southampton. Both the games saw him put in underwhelming performances.
That isn’t a good sight for Real Madrid. This is a player who was last on a loan deal in the 2016-17 season. At Eintracht Frankfurt, Vallejo was one of the club’s best players under Niko Kovac that season.
Playing in a three at the back shape, Vallejo played as the left centre-back. He played 25 times in the Bundesliga and was a regular until February. But his progress was hampered by injuries. They were three separate injuries. And after February 2017, Vallejo played only three league games. But overall, it was an experience which told Real Madrid enough about the player.
But the two seasons at the Los Blancos did not yield much. He could make only 12 La Liga appearances in those two seasons. He suffered as many as seven different injuries, missing 39 games due to those.
It was clear that Real had seen enough in the Frankfurt spell for Vallejo play regularly at the Santiago Bernabeu. But that plan didn’t work and that is why this loan spell at Wolves has come into place.
It is worth keeping in mind that Real did sign Eder Militao from Porto for as much as €50 million. As things stand, the Los Blancos have four central defenders. Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos is the main pairing. Eder and Nacho Fernandez are the two back-ups.
Militao is seen as the potential replacement for Ramos, while Fernandez can play anywhere in the defence. This leaves little room for a defender like Vallejo. He is someone who hasn’t developed as well as the club would have liked. If not for injuries, Real may not have signed Eder from Porto.
That is why the loan stint at Wolves becomes the most crucial season of Vallejo’s career. He did impress for the Spain Under-21s side in the recent European Championships. He played all games in the tournament, bar one and helped the team win the title from reigning champions Germany.
Vallejo has been open about how Real gave him the encouragement to move to the Molineux. In an interview with Diario AS, he said:
“I had offers this summer, both loans and permanent moves. But I wanted to make this move and experience this club and the Premier League. I spoke with Jonny Castro and Adama Traore (both ex La Liga) before I came. I also spoke with Real Madrid, and the club encouraged me to come to Wolves, as I would continue to develop as a player.”
Clearly, Real want to assess his development in the best possible manner. If things go well, they will get him back. But this is Vallejo’s last shot at redemption at the club. If it doesn’t work out at Wolves, time will be up for him.