The second installment in a series on players who leave Villarreal in this summer of changes. Part one featured goalkeeper Diego López and defender Iván Marcano. Now it's the turn of enigmatic Ecuadorean winger Jefferson Montero.
Jefferson Montero: 3 years with Villarreal (1.5 on loan); sold to Monarcas Morelia (Mexico) for €3.3 million.
The Yellow Submarine's version of Alexander Semin: talented but never quite together. Montero's youth (age 22) is a mitigating factor, but Villarreal fans never saw the player who has received 20 caps with La Tri.
Montero arrived in Vila-real in 2009 as a highly-rated teenager. Another coup for José Manuel Llaneza and the club's vaunted South American pipeline. Under Juan Carlos Garrido, then-manager of the 'B' team, Montero lit up the Segunda for ten goals in 32 appearances. He was among "Garrido's Nine" promoted to the big club in 2010.
2010-11 was a highly successful season for Villarreal CF: fourth in La Liga, Europa League semifinalist, and Copa del Rey quarterfinalist. But not for Jeff. A number of more experienced attacking midfielders were ahead of him on the depth chart, so Montero made only nine appearances (all as a substitute) in four months. He created a Nilmar tally against Espanyol and scored against Athletic Bilbao, but 140 minutes of playing time in total were not enough.
So Jeff went on loan to our neighbors Levante for four months. He made 11 appearances (four starts), notably not against Villarreal, but failed to get on the scoresheet. Montero continued his tour of Spain in 2011-12 with a year-long loan at Real Betis. His only goal came against Real Madrid, which is nice, but more is expected of an attacking player in 33 appearances (27 starts).
Betis wanted to keep him for another season. Many thought Villarreal would return to the Segunda with Montero and Hernán Pérez on the flanks. But the move to Mexico is best for Jeff with an eye on Brazil 2014. If Ecuador qualifies for the World Cup, he will be in the biggest shop window around.
Best of luck, Jeffrey. I will miss your verve. Hope you round out in Mexico.