Martinez: We followed Leandro’s progress for a long time

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has been discussing the left-field signing of Uruguayan forward Leandro Rodriguez and says that although the signing was a surprise to many people, the club had been following him for a long time.

Martinez did however say that the deal nearly didn’t happen after the Uruguayans dad nearly made his son focus on getting a career following University rather than football.

“Leandro’s dad was a footballer as well but he became a dentist and has been a dentist for most of his life. His son wanted to play football but the dad was very strong with him and didn’t want him to play professional football, so he sent him to university.

“We were aware of Leandro’s goalscoring ability very early on after seeing him in a tournament in the United States. We wanted to follow his progress but then we saw he wasn’t playing for the first team, which we thought was very strange. It turned out his dad wouldn’t allow him to play because he wanted him to complete his degree at university. He then agreed to give Leandro one year to just concentrate at football and that’s when he really kicked on. He was really impressive in the games at River Plate Montevideo in how he found a way to score goals.”

“We follow South American football from a distance and try to filter a lot of games, and Leandro was one of three promising Uruguayan youngsters. One went to PSV, Leandro came to us and another went to Spain. Those were the three talents we were following but it was the striker we wanted.”

“He will be involved in the squad but his role will depend on the game,” said Martínez , who may start Leon Osman and Gerard Deulofeu against Steve Clarke’s side.

Martínez said: “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. What has surprised me is how quickly he’s adapted to being effective here. The first action against Preston with the under-21s he puts a header away at the back post. The first attack he had against Sunderland with the under-21s he’s clinical enough to take the chance. It shows he’s ready in terms of his mindset and the way he is as a footballer, but physically he has a big step to go. Nothing has changed with the target we have for Leandro. He’s a street footballer because he takes what the defender gives you.”

Have you been impressed by Leandro’s showings for the under 21’s?

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