Alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Robin van Persie in the Champions League top scorers list this season is a certain Valencia playmaker Jonas. The Brazilian is only playing his second European campaign with the club, but has already highlighted his abilities with three goals and an assist ahead of this week’s tie with an in-form Bayern Munich at the Mestalla.
Jonas excelled at Santos in 2006 with key performances that aided the club in picking up successive titles, but substitute appearances were not enough for him. After being sold to Gremio, much was made of his arrival but only a year later he was struggling to even make it into the reserve team. A lack of strength and speed were picked on as his major faults, and he failed to make an impression in the big games.
The Guarani youngster was duly loaned to Portuguesa in 2008 and was one of the best players in the team, but could not prevent them from relegation to Serie B. His return to Gremio was never expected to yield much, but he broke back into the starting line-up. While he thrived domestically, a disastrous performance in the Copa Libertadores saw Spanish daily Mundo Deportivo dub him ‘the world’s worst forward’.
Jonas matured in his final year with Gremio, and even managed to bag the top scorer award in Serie A with 23 strikes. He soon declared that he would spend the rest of his career at the club, but as contract negotiations rumbled on, he was left with no choice but to move. At the age of 26, after rescinding his contract for €1.25m, it seemed unlikely the lanky forward would make that coveted move to Europe.
Despite impressive displays throughout his time in his homeland, Jonas lacked consistency and was judged to be simply too laboured for the rigors of the European game. The Mexican media insisted a transfer to MX side Tigres in 2011 was a done deal. However, it was Valencia that ultimately bagged his signature in late January and he packed his bags for the big time.
In 2012, Jonas has cemented a place in Mauricio Pellegrino’s side behind Roberto Soldado. His first year proved his promise, and last term he made 53 appearances and netted on 19 occasions. While La Liga has been a prosperous hunting ground for him, the Champions League has been where he was thrived above all else. The added of experience of six years of professional football before he even set foot in the competition is clearly standing him in good stead.
Tonight Los Che face their biggest test of the season so far, as Bayern touch down in Spain. A narrow defeat in Bavaria back in September will only be a distant memory, as the pair both sit on nine points at the summit of Group F. Winner takes all in more than one sense, and Jonas will be hoping he can really announce himself having waited so long for the chance.