It’s the summer transfer market before the season 2019/20, fans are looking towards the Real Madrid’s Hierarchy to go ahead and sign the much-awaited midfield jewel Paul Pogba (27). There was a need to change the midfield after a horrendous season in which Real Madrid was managed by three different managers and was still discovering the lost form at the end of the last season, especially a player to replace the tired legs of the talisman that is Luka Modric.
The club was heavily linked with the Manchester United’s unsettled Paul Pogba (27), who was looking to force a move out of the club and also with Van de Beek (23), Ajax’s one of the most important players of that Champions League run where they thrashed Real Madrid and Juventus in the competition while being knocked out at the hands of Tottenham Hotspurs, just minutes before the final whistle in the second leg. The wait for the new arrival went on and none of the linked midfielders was signed during the window.
Emergence in the first team
There was some discomfort among the fans who had witnessed a static midfield last season and could not afford another season like that again. The season started nonetheless with a couple of two victories and two draws. The team looked far from settled and improved. Then came the first UCL game against PSG at Parc des Princes. The night was one of the worst nights of football display from Real Madrid, PSG’s midfield and attack ran over Real Madrid’s static and tired midfield on will. The final result was a 3-1 victory to PSG while it could have been a lot worse. Something needed to be changed.
The change happened in the form of Federico Valverde, a promising midfielder from the academy who was signed from Peñarol at the age of 16 and was yet to announce himself on the biggest stage. He seemed like the missing puzzle in the Real Madrid starting XI, the one having the required energy and work-rate to drive the midfield. Once he was called up to the starting XI, he never looked back.
A regular member of the Uruguayan Nation Team, the 21-year-old cemented his place in the starting XI with a string of sensational performances. The trio of Kroos, Casemiro, and Valverde was starting to look like the best midfield set up for Zidane’s second tenure as the manager. With the inclusion of Valverde, the performances and results improved. Real Madrid didn’t lose a single game between 20th September, when they lost against the relegation battling team Mallorca, and February 6th of the next year. A couple of losses after that meant Real Madrid were now trailing behind the arch-rivals Barcelona in the league table and suffered a crushing defeat against Manchester City in the first leg of CL’s Round of 16 before the COVID-19 forced football around Europe to be stopped.
Statistics for 2019/2020 season
His stats speak for himself during this season. Real Madrid had a goal difference of +25 with him and -1 without him at a point. He has scored 2 and assisted another 4 goals in the league this season. His performance against the PSG in the CL group stage at Santiago shows what Real Madrid had been missing the first game in France earlier this season. He started alongside Kroos and Casemiro with Isco as the 4th midfielder. The team looked completely different from the one which had been thrashed by PSG earlier. Real Madrid was leading by 2 goals when he was substituted off for Luka Modric only for PSG to score 2 after 80 minutes to get a point. The match showed what he can is capable of. Another good performance from him was against the rivals Barcelona in the league match where Real Madrid won by two goals to nil.
Only Luis Suarez had a better Goal Difference, when on the pitch vs not on the pitch, than Valverde according to FBRef.com. His SOFASCORE heat map of the season shows that he is involved in every part of the midfield more or less this season.
Whether the football will return this season or not, one positive thing about Real Madrid’s campaign this season was Federico Valverde who didn’t let the fans be sad over missing either Van de Beek or Paul Pogba. He brought on the field, what Real Madrid was missing in the game, with his work rate on every part of the pitch, and his runs deep in the final third.
The profile going forward
The age is on his side, he is potentially a world-class player who can improve any midfield in years to come. Real Madrid fans can’t wait to see him performing again as he did vs Barcelona and in the Madrid derby. Let’s hope he can keep on improving for his club and country, a bob-to-box midfielder like him can prove to be an asset if properly used.
Fingers crossed for Zidane’s plans for him next season and his role in the squad!