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Guided by the Portugese mega-agent Jorge Mendes, Singapore billionaire Peter Lim - via his Meriton Capital company - bought Rodrigo's rights and loaned him to Valencia as part of a protracted takeover of the crisis club in 2014.

Lim was hailed as a saviour, while the arrival of a flourishing player who had trialled for at 13 before settling for Celta felt satisfyingly circular.

But behind the stats is the story of a tough and - via Benfica and Bolton, curious - path to prominence.

Rodrigo, after a first season as a senior pro, said: "I'll always be grateful to Owen Coyle."And so, despite Gartside's best efforts, it was back to Benfica, where the prospect emerged as a .

Real Madrid came sniffing in 2009 and the 18-year-old Rodrigo occasionally trained with Cristiano Ronaldo.

But Real's Castilla side was the ceiling and a year later they cashed in, the teenager used a makeweight to lure Angel di Maria from Benfica. Owen Coyle and assistant Sandy Stewart utilised contacts forged through the transfers of Fernando Hierro and Ivan Campo to the Reebok Stadium and Benfica boss Jorge Jesus, already swamped with talent, wanted Rodrigo to bulk up.

Alvaro Morata has been axed but Valencia's late bloomer Rodrigo Moreno is heading to his first World Cup after a stellar season.

It has been a long road for the one-time Bolton loanee...

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