Federico Valverde’s emergence as a convincing first-team player for Real Madrid may yet prove one of the most significant developments of Zinedine Zidane’s second spell in charge. One factor behind the club’s successes first time round under Zidane was the extent to which he was capable of bringing balance to a team that has often proved so impressive in the final third but vulnerable further back. Valverde is proving crucial in achieving that balance once again.
The Uruguayan has impressed in a variety of positions at the Santiago Bernabéu, and to the extent that he has perhaps surpassed both Martin Odegaard and Marco Asensio in being considered the future of a midfield that will eventually be shorn of both Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. “I am very pleased for him,” Zidane recently said. “He is dedicated to improving and he shows that in training and now in games. He has played an important role.”