His name is Jeffrén Isaac Suárez Bermúdez and I used to call him The Rooster for obvious, hair-related reasons. Then he was Final Fantasy for his resemblance, according to those who I trust to know, to a main character in that video game franchise. Or at least his hair. Then he was The Driverless Ferrari for his penchant for smashing through barriers at 300mph looking, thanks to his hair and obvious talent, like a million bucks, but ultimately failing to do much of anything other than the randomly spectacular stemming from mistakes no one could see coming.
His list of personal accomplishments is shorter than Tom Cruise without his platform shoes. And that’s the weird part, given how fast, how brilliant, and how just damned good he obviously is. Yet, like his most recent moniker alludes, he’s constantly in dry dock because he wrecks himself. It’s been the bane of his career: every time he does something good, an injury occurs and he is forgotten about on the sidelines.
Imagine Pedro, but with injuries. Imagine Jesus Navas, but with injuries. Hell, imagine Bojan, but with injuries. It wasn’t always so, though: he made more than 30 appearances in a season for the B squad twice before being promoted to the first team and featuring just 34 times in all competitions over the last 2 years and almost all of those as late subs rather than as a starter. Again, imagine Bojan, but with injuries.
And yes, some of those substitutions ended in manitas that we celebrate to this day by replaying them in our heads while we giggle and coworkers, their PowerPoint presentations interrupted by chortling right when they’re getting to the zinger their significant other wrote for them and which makes no real sense, look at us confusedly. Or…well, you guys do that too, right? I mean:
And then of course:
He’s got the ability—his goal in the U-21 European Championship is somewhat indicative—but so many are split over whether or not he’s really good that it’s hard not to question the wisdom of keeping him around. I personally believe he’s immensely talented, as talented as Pedro, but it hasn’t worked out for him, for whatever reason. In this purported Year of the Cantera Exodus (but don’t forget that an equal number of players have stepped in to replace the departed), it makes sense to trim the leaves of those who Guardiola thinks simply won’t bear fruit. Bojan are but the most well-known Jeffrén entities.
And it is sad. Very sad. Because, as a fan of the club, I’m ever hopeful that our little ones will come through and blossom into superstars, not simply because I like winning things with homegrown talent (though that is certainly true), but because I actually care about them in a sort of “I’ve seen you since you were a wee tot” kind of way. Bojan has been around for so long that it’s hard to imagine a team without him—even though my memory, which still functions on occasion, tells me otherwise—and the same is becoming true of Jeffrén. If asked before writing this, I would have said Jeffrén joined when Guardiola was promoted to first team manager. And I would have been right, but what I would have been wrong about is that I would have said that was in like 1998. It’s been a long 3 years.
So I’m emotionally attached to these canteranos in that my daily life revolves around the team they’re apart of and, as sad a statement as that may be on my life, this causes me to wish they were better than they are or that the club would simply repay their loyalty with continued contracts. Yet I want to win—or, at this point, I want to keep Madrid from winning and I want to end up farther in every competition than the merengues.
Here, without further rambling, are Jeffrén’s career statistics with FCB:
Appearances: 35 (23 Liga, 6 Copa, 4 CL, 2 Other)
Goals: 3 (3 Liga)
Times Isaiah sucked in his breath after a magnificent play…only for Jeffrén to lose the ball on the subsequent touch: 8,203
Compare these stats to Ibi Afellay, who has been around since January:
Appearances: 29 (16 Liga, 6 Copa, 7 CL)
Goals: 2 (1 Liga, 1 Copa)
Times Isaiah has gone “hijo de su madre santa, that was a a great assist to beatMadridin the CL semifinal”: 1
You can see from this why Jeffrén is on his way out. The rumored fee of €5m only makes sense if you consider a buyback clause over the next 2 years for €8m and that his contract only had 1 year to run, making him far less valuable to the club. Afellay came for €3m, after all, with 6 months remaining on his contract. I’m on the fence about this one because it strikes me as a terrible deal, but perhaps I’m overvaluing him in the market. After all, his highlight package is basically what I’ve shown you above and that ain’t much. It’s like pointing out in a job interview that 4 years ago I did some volunteer work and that’s why an NGO should hire me as director of international development. Which they should, but you can see why the interviewer might be a bit hesitant.
Goodbye and good luck, Jeffrencito…and your awesome hair. I hope you become amazing at Sporting Lisbon and prove us all wrong. I hope we buy you back in 2 years and you light up the world. I hope you and Bojan are reunited and scored so many goals for us that we all put our hands up and say “Well I didn’t see that coming. Except the hair part.”