Chema ReyMARCA

Real Madrid spent five million euros on Fede Valverde in 2015, and the midfielder couldn’t even join right away as he was under the age of 18, but just five years later he has emerged as the idol of the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

He first shone with Castilla before being sent on loan at Deportivo La Coruna, however his development had somewhat stunted by the time the 2018/19 season started.

Santiago Solari gave him some first-team minutes, but it’s only been since Zinedine Zidane‘s return that the Uruguayan has really come into his own.

Los Blancos were in the market for a midfielder in the summer of 2019, with Zidane believed to be keen on Paul Pogba, yet Valverde has emerged as a fundamental player for the French coach.

Despite a slow start to the season, which culminated in a horror defeat to Paris Saint-Germain and a poor performance at home to Club Brugge, Real Madrid have since found their balance, winning the first trophy of the season in Jeddah, and Valverde has been centric to that.

Not only was he instrumental in saving Los Merengues‘ skin in the final by bringing down Alvaro Morata as he raced through on goal, but he has taken significant pressure off Casemiro in midfield for the entirety of the season.

The balance that has allowed Real Madrid to play their best football and be serious LaLiga Santander title contenders has come from Valverde; his energy in midfield has boosted the position in Luka Modric‘s absence.

With Valverde and Casemiro doing a lot of physical work, Toni Kroos has been able to focus on creativity, whilst even Isco has benefited from the additional support.

Valverde‘s emergence has all but ended the debate about paying 150 million euros for Pogba, and the club’s fans couldn’t be happier with how the South American has improved.

Florentino Perez has never been one to shy away from spending lavish transfer fees on players, but ever since the 222 million euro deal which took Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain, the market has been irreparably changed.

No longer are Real Madrid at the forefront; the Spanish giants need to be self-sufficient and Valverde‘s level of performance has been a perfect vindication of that policy.

A player who cost just five million euros has probably ended up saving the club over 120 million euros, funds which can be redirected to help finance the redevelopment project at the Bernabeu.

At the same time the team has remained incredibly competitive too, especially now the initial early months of Zidane‘s return have passed.

The rocky period at the start of the campaign told Zidane something about his squad. He quickly identified a problem in midfield and on matchday six in LaLiga Santander, he played Casemiro and Valverde together for the first time.

Now, Valverde‘s arrival hasn’t actually meant less football for Casemiro, who has played in almost every match, but the 21-year-old has ensured that the physical toll taken by the Brazilian is lessened.

In the 13 matches the duo have played next to each other they have yet to taste defeat, winning nine and drawing four, within which the team have scored 30 goals and conceded just four.

The pair have made Los Blancos a defensive colossus, which has been important at a time when Eden Hazard has been settling to life in the Spanish capital and then out through injury.

Goals are the problem for Zidane‘s team at this moment in time, but Rodrygo Goes and Vinicius Junior can only improve, and the fact Valverde has helped the team become so solid, the lack of forward firepower isn’t actually costing Real Madrid vital points.


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