Across Europe, young centre forwards are continuing to steal the headlines with the likes of Harry Kane, Paulo Dybala and Luciano Vietto deservedly receiving not only a great deal of plaudits from pundits and fans alike, but also inevitably a great deal interest from the Champions League heavyweight sides who always seem to be on the look out for the next best thing. However, under the radar has seen Elche’s Jonathas continually thrive for Los Franjiverdes’ in their inspiring quest to avoid relegation. The twenty five year old who currently has eight goals to his name in his debut season in La Liga has already made a name for himself and found himself subject to interest from abroad most notably from English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion in January, who looked to bring in the promising youngster after Tony Pulis’ arrival.
Yet surprisingly, Jonathas has been somewhat of a late developer and has struggled to find consistency in his career and whilst on loan from Serie B’s Pescara, the Brazil international is featuring this year for his ninth different club in eight years. Nevertheless, Jonathas has flourished in his first season on loan, netting eight goals and picking up five assists, and for me he really does typify your modern day South American striker with his electric pace, fluid style of play and his individual skill.
In a tightly contested battle in the bottom half of La Liga, Elche lie in just above the relegation zone in seventeenth place with twenty points after twenty two games, just a point above Levante. Fran Escribá’s side have conceded the highest amount of goals (forty-two), increasing the importance that they need to continue to outscore their opponents, which will inevitably increase the pressure on the inform Jonathas who has played a major part in thirteen of the twenty goals that have hit the back of the net. It will therefore be vital that they keep the Brazilian fit for the remainder of the season where Elche face sides such as Almeria who will prove to be a tough contest in their fight for La Liga survival. His impact however has been proven however, with his most recent goal coming against fellow strugglers Eibar, exemplifying his true individual quality on a consistent basis at the moment for Elche.
It’s expected that up to eight clubs could find themselves in a relegation dog fight with only five points currently separating twelfth place and twentieth in La Liga. Elche will hope to maintain their current position in La Liga and emulate last season’s success of finishing sixteenth which was seen as a relative success, and it will be even more important to survive early on this year as the final day of the season sees what could be a relegation decider; a mouth-watering away fixtures versus Levante beckon in what may well be a ‘cup final’ ’ for both sides as they attempt to stay in La Liga.
Up until their 4-1 victory at home to Malaga last weekend, Levante had struggled for goals, replicating Aston Villa’s deep problems after only scoring a mere thirteen goals from twenty one games. Now, their goals per game ratio seems that bit more more respectable but it must be remembered their top-scorer David Barral has only four goals to his name and admittedly, Levante may have missed a valuable opportunity to have looked to bring in a striker in January, if the importance of Jonathas of Elche is anything to measure up against, whose goals look to carry Elche to safety this season. Remarkably, the centre forward has single-handedly earned the Alicante based side ten points alone from his goals, the highest in the league ahead of Celta Vigo’s Nolito with nine. It has been reported that many of Europe’s sides have been monitoring the on-loan forward who is expected to make his move permanent to Elche with the Spanish side ready to activate his €1.5M clause from Pescara. In the past few weeks, West Bromwich ALbion reportedly had made contact with Jonathas’ agent Mino Raiola over a possible move to the Hawthorns whilst it’s believed that Chelsea had also sent two scouts for Elche’s most recent ties at the Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero, however these claims were dismissed with the forward expressing his desire to remain in Spain until the end of the season.
The South American forward has received the credit he truly deserves for many of his wonder strikes this season, most notably his volleyed goals against Villarreal, Cordoba and Almeria. His technical ability for his lack of experience in Spain has impressed many of the cynics that criticised his arrival from Pescara and his work rate has been second to none in the league. Elche potentially have a real talent on their hands and he could easily prove to be the difference in their relegation battle, where they’ll hope their little star continues to star for Elche at least till the end of the season to secure their La Liga survival. After that, who knows – the sky is the limit.
Article written by: @Selby147