Karim Benzema’s injury in the UEFA Champions League clash against Celtic was seen as a major worry for Real Madrid given the lack of a natural backup in the No. 9 role at Carlo Ancelotti’s disposal.
However, the performance earlier today against RCD Mallorca in La Liga will have eased a lot of nerves among the fanbase. Without Benzema on board, Los Blancos thrashed their visitors 4-1, riding on the brilliance of Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo Goes and Federico Valverde.
Eden Hazard had started as the No. 9 in Benzema’s absence after scoring against Celtic. However, the Belgian did not have the most effective outing on Sunday afternoon. Following his substitution, Rodrygo moved into the centre-forward slot and sparked things into life.
The Brazilian was brilliant playing through the middle as he set Vinicius up for a goal before scoring one himself with a brilliant strike.
Following his performance, MARCA (h/t Madrid Zone) is now reporting that Ancelotti has decided to start Rodrygo as the No. 9 ahead of Eden Hazard when Real Madrid face RB Leipzig in the Champions League next week.
With Rodrygo moving into a central role, Ancelotti plans to deploy Valverde out on the right flank against the Bundesliga giants. And Vinicius is a permanent fixture on the left flank, given his form and importance to the team.
Ancelotti praised Rodrygo’s performance playing through the middle against Mallorca, saying: “In the second half we did better when Rodrygo was striker, he combined well with Vinicius.”
So, unless something changes in the next couple of days, it seems like Real Madrid will line up with the attacking trident of Valverde, Rodrygo and Vinicius against RB Leipzig, with Hazard dropping down to the bench.
The trio was on target on Sunday afternoon and Madridistas will hope for them to carry on in the same vein of form in Europe.
Real Madrid forward set for talks with Arsenal this week – report
With less than six months left on his contract, Marco Asensio looks to be on his way out of Real Madrid very soon. The Spaniard has not yet started talks to extend his contract with the Spanish giants, which has garnered the eyes from several top clubs across Europe.
One of the clubs interested in his signature happens to be Premier League leaders Arsenal. Mikel Arteta is said to be a fan of the player, and will try to be bring him to North London on a free transfer this summer.
According to Mirror, Asensio’s agents will fly to London this week to get an a better understanding Arsenal’s interest in the player. Talks are scheduled with Arsenal, among possibly other clubs.
Asensio’s priority remains to extend with Arsenal, but not at ‘any cost’. The winger is looking for raise with his new contract to go along with a four-year deal. The report states that he currently earns around €130,000 per week at Madrid.
The 27-year-old has been waiting for an official offer from Los Blancos for a while, but the club will wait for March or April before taking a decision on his extension.
Asensio took a while to grow important for Carlo Ancelotti this season, but has been featuring regularly on the right-wing lately. He even scored in 2-0 win against Valencia in midweek, taking his tally to two for the season, excluding three assists as well.
Arsenal are definitely looking to add more firepower to their squad for next season, having already brought in Leandro Trossard in the winter. Asensio could serve as the perfect backup to Bukayo Saka, who has been in incredible form all season.