In early 2017, Cristian Rodriguez returned to Penarol, where he began his career. His motives in doing so were twofold: to enjoy more playing time and increase his chances of returning to the national team. The move has worked out well. Now 32, Rodriguez is having one of the best spells of his career, prompting Oscar Tabarez to draft him into a rejuvenated Celeste midfield.
Cebolla (‘The Onion’) has rediscovered the form that makes him so useful on the left side of midfield, where he is combative in defence and a threat in attack. Tabarez called on Rodriguez regularly from 2007 onwards, though suspension caused the player to miss the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, with the Uruguay coach also leaving him out of the squad for the 2016 Copa America. The winner of over 100 caps, Rodriguez made 13 appearances in the qualifiers for Russia 2018, scoring twice.