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The Spanish Under-21 international is turning into a key figure at the Estadio da Luz, and believes he would not have stumbled upon such career progression had he stayed in Madrid

Spanish starlet Rodrigo has heaped praise on Benfica for presenting him with the chance to prove his worth in professional football, following his €6 million switch to the Primeira Liga in 2010.

Parent club Real Madrid had the option to buy back the Brazilian-born forward, but both clubs agreed to cancel that clause following Fabio Coentrao's transfer to the Bernabeu, an unwitting circumstance Rodrigo is grateful for.

"Last year I did pretty well, and also felt good," enthused the 21-year-old to AS. "All the time, I feel more important to Benfica. They have allowed me to play at the top level, and I will be forever grateful for that.

"I have renewed this summer because it is the perfect club to move forward with. I appreciate the time I spent at Real Madrid, and it was important in my career too, but I am dedicated to my job and now focus on Benfica."

Rodrigo's exploits at Under-21 international level have led to some calling for Spain coach Vicente del Bosque to induct him into the senior squad leading up to the 2014 World Cup, although La Roja have recently deployed formations without a designated striker.

He added: "There are good quality centre-forwards in the junior as well as senior set-up. It is true the Euros were won without any specific position for strikers, but they are still just as potent.

"Besides me, there is [Getafe's] Alvaro Vazquez and [Real Madrid's] Alvaro Morata in the Under-21 team, who also have a lot of potential."

To date, Rodrigo has accounted for four goals in only six league appearances for Benfica.

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