Ruben Castro has something in common with great wines – he also gets better with age. The 34-year-old striker from Real Betis keeps scoring more and more as the years pass by. It’s almost as if he’s saying through his goals that age is an issue of mind over matter – if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
Castro is on his eighth-straight season scoring 10 or more goals, going between Segunda and Primera football like it makes no difference. As long as the rules of the game remain the same it seems that Ruben will be able to find the back of the net on every piece of grass that Spain has to offer.
He has always been a regular scorer. In fact, in Castro’s three previous Primera years with the team he led Betis in goals and in direct participation in team goals [goals plus assists]. He had a direct participation in 44 percent of Betis goals in the 2010-11 season, fourth best mark in the League. The next year he managed the fifth best mark again with 44% and in 2013-14, where the team couldn’t avoid relegation, Castro still scored or assisted 31% of Betis goals, 16th best mark.
Ruben Castro is also just one of six La Liga players who are leading their teams in both goals and assists. On that list we see the big names of Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez but also the likes of Pablo Alcacer for Valencia and Pablo Sarabia for Getafe, who have scored fewer than 10 goals and are in this list more due to the poor displays of their teams than their own achievements. The last of the six is Deportivo La Coruna’s Lucas Perez who, like Castro, is having an incredible year with 16 goals and seven assists.
Castro’s 17 goals are tied with Aritz Aduriz for best among Spaniards in La Liga. Aduriz is another striker who is getting better with age and also leads his team in assists with six but ties in this category with Raul Garcia.
But unlike Aduriz, despite his amazing season, Castro has no chance to be called to Euro 2016. Even though he is Betis’ all-time leader in goals Castro has never been called for La Roja, and at this moment leading a team who are fighting relegation won’t be enough to get a call from Vicente Del Bosque.
However, it would be good enough to enter the record books as Ruben Castro’s year has been quite historic. Castro not only leads Betis with 17 goals and four assists but the rest of Betis have combined for just 12 goals. The second best scorer in the team are German Pezzella and Juan Vargas with two – both defenders.
It actually took a Betis player other than Castro 25 La Liga weeks to score two goals this season. Ruben Castro not only has managed to assist 33% of Betis goals not scored by him but he has also managed to score an incredible 59% of Betis’ goals this season.
In the last five years of La Liga nobody has managed to score more than 45% of his team goals, Radamel Falcao’s 2011-12 season with Atletico Madrid the last to reach that mark. Now Castro is scoring more than half the goals of his club.
On top of that are the four assists. To show how extraordinary that number is, in the last five years the highest mark for direct participation in team’s goals in La Liga was set by Jonathas last year with Elche, participating in 60% of the goals scored by his former club. Now Castro is adding more than 10% to that mark.
The landslide difference between Castro’s numbers and the rest of his teammates makes you wonder why teams aren’t paying even more attention to him. Or if they are, how good has Ruben Castro been at age 34? How good will he get at 35?