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Alaves star Antonio Blanco talks Zidane, Ancelotti, Kroos, Vinicius, Casemiro, future Real Madrid return



Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Real Madrid take on Deportivo Alaves later this week in their final league game before the Christmas break. After David Alaba’s latest injury, it will not be an easy clash for the men in white but provides them with a chance to transiently close the gap with Girona regardless.

The men in white will see a familiar face in the opposition camp on the night, however, in Antonio Blanco. The talented midfielder left the club earlier this year in a move worth €4 million and has become a crucial part of the team dynamics ever since.

Ahead of the clash against Real Madrid scheduled for Thursday night, the former Castilla star spoke to AS in a detailed interview where he did not hold back on his excitement.

“Of course, it’s a special, exciting match,” he began, jumping with exuberance.

He then jumped back to his younger days, the first days as a Real Madrid player, and how it took a while for him to come to terms with a massive move.

“I remember my first day. I arrived with my backpack with boots, socks, clothes, and my towel. And they gave me everything, of course. Everything was new, it was impressive.”

“But once you take the dynamics of what Madrid is, you meet your classmates, the people. It’s like a dream come true. A real luxury,” he added.

He then praised Los Blancos for being the club that gave him a stage to display his talent and make a name in the world of football.

“It is the club that allowed me to be a professional player because I was nine years old. They gave me everything when I was little and I don’t forget it.”

The 23-year-old left the Spanish giants in July this year in a permanent transfer to Deportivo Alaves, for the competition in the Real Madrid squad was too much to handle.

“There is more football on the sidelines of Madrid. Although it is true that when you leave, you see that nothing comes close to Madrid even far away,” he said about his move away from the club.

“Football goes on, and life. I know where I come from. I had my feet on the ground. It wasn’t so hard for me to get out of there,” he added.

Blanco then took a moment to thank two managers under whom he worked at Real Madrid – Zinedine Zidane and Carlo Ancelotti.

“There is little to say. They are two very important coaches in the history of Real Madrid and Zidane also had a stage as a football player. It was lucky for me that they trained me.”

“I am very grateful for the trust that both of them always gave me, I feel very lucky to have passed through their hands,” he added.

Antonio Blanco left Real Madrid for Alaves. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

In praise of Toni Kroos, who he always considered one of his idols and the team’s most important players, he said,

“He is the engine of Real Madrid, a benchmark. I’ve always noticed him a lot. When he trained he tried to copy the things he did: how he profiled himself and played with the ball. What am I going to say that we don’t know about him? A top player admired worldwide.”

Sticking to the midfield greats of Real Madrid, he also had words of appreciation for former midfielder Casemiro and the advice he shared with the youngster.

“He was always very close to me. He gave me a lot of advice, he was helping me, especially in defensive matters. He was very close, he kept supporting me.

“It gave me confidence, and that for a kid who comes from below, to feel so loved, is to thank him all his life,” he added.

Speaking about Vinicius Jr, who is currently injured and will not feature against Deportivo Alaves, Blanco called him one of the best in the business.

“He is one of the best in the world. He is demonstrating it, he has qualities that few can exhibit. Luckily, Madrid enjoys them. He will give a lot of joy, he has a lot of time to keep improving.”

He then dived back into the days when he won the Youth League under Raul Gonzalez and the special memories it held.

“I have a very nice memory, it was in the COVID stage. Madrid had not win it and we had a very good group, with Miguel Gutiérrez, Arribas. Both were important to Raúl. A beautiful stage. For a youth, it is the biggest tournament. Incredible experience.”

Looking ahead towards his future, the midfielder admitted that a return to Real Madrid would always remain a dream that he would gun for.

“We all want to play in the best club in the world and the biggest competitions. You fight and work every day for that reward to arrive, to return to the club you left. Playing the Champions League, finals is an illusion that always remains intact.”

Finally, the 23-year-old was asked if he would celebrate should he score against his former club tomorrow.

“I wouldn’t do it, the most important thing in life is respect and I have to thank Madrid for everything. I have been allowed to be in Primera, for me, he is the best, I admire him and I will always respect him. Even if I’m not there, I feel like another fan,” he admitted with no hesitation.

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Real Madrid News

Bundesliga title-winner ‘is ready for Real Madrid’, says former German great



Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

Speaking in an interview with Sport BILD (h/t AS), Germany legend Michael Ballack has claimed that Bayer Leverkusen sensation Florian Wirtz is ready to play for Real Madrid.

Wirtz is a player that Real Madrid have been closely monitoring for a while now, with the German sensation being seen as a long-term replacement for Toni Kroos, who announced his retirement yesterday.

A move for Wirtz is being planned for the summer of 2025 and Ballack believes that the Bundesliga title winner with Leverkusen is ready for the big move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

“Wirtz is ready for Real Madrid,” said Ballack.

“In terms of football, Wirtz can definitely play for Real Madrid. You can also see it in Jude Bellingham after his move from BVB: when you play with even better players, you become even better,” he added.

The Toni Kroos replacement? (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

Wirtz has a contract with Bayer Leverkusen that runs until the summer of 2027. As things stand, the new German champions have no intentions of selling their prized asset this year.

However, there appears to be an acceptance that the German international will be on the move in 2025.

Other top clubs like Manchester City and Bayern Munich are also understood to be interested, but Real Madrid are likely to beat them in the race should it come down to that next year.

A move for Wirtz, though, could cost in excess of €100 million for Real Madrid should they do indeed decide to proceed with his signing next year.

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