According to AS (h/t Madrid Zone), Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has been left very impressed by Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez, following his exploits at the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Fernandez, 21, has been on the radars of Real Madrid as a possible alternative for main midfield target Jude Bellingham.
The Englishman has been Los Blancos’ top preference to bolster the middle of the park ahead of next season. However, Liverpool are said to be leading the race to sign the teenage sensation, forcing Madrid to look at other options.
Enzo Fernandez has emerged as one such alternative following his impressive start to life in Europe. Indeed, having moved to SL Benfica from River Plate this past summer, the 21-year-old has quickly made a big impression.
The young star enhanced his reputation with a series of solid performances for Argentina at the World Cup, resulting in him winning the Best Young Player of the Tournament Award.
He played 563 minutes across seven matches for the new world champions, scoring and assisting one goal apiece.
And, it is now being claimed that Real Madrid manager Ancelotti has been ‘very impressed’ by Fernandez.
The Merengues will need to start infusing fresh blood into their midfield unit as Luka Modric and Toni Kroos edge closer to their goodbyes. Both the veterans are out of contract at the end of the season and are yet to renew.
While it is expected that the legendary midfield duo will renew for one more year, it would bode well for Real Madrid to start making plans for life after them.
As iterated earlier, Bellingham remains the top priority. But his inflated valuation and Liverpool’s presence in the race make things complicated.
With Ancelotti seemingly being impressed by Enzo Fernandez, it will be interesting to see if Real Madrid are ready to step up their pursuit of the 21-year-old. However, he has a release clause worth €120 million which could be a hindrance.
Ancelotti considering playing a makeshift centre-back pairing for Real Madrid against Valencia – report
Real Madrid will take on Valencia on Saturday, looking to maintain their solid lead at the top of the league table.
The Spanish giants are leading the standing with a six-point lead over Girona. A win against Valencia could help them solidify their position at the top while potentially opening up an opportunity to extend the lead to more than six points.
Heading into this game, though, Carlo Ancelotti is facing multiple setbacks, especially in the defensive unit, with Eder Militao, David Alaba and Thibaut Courtois still missing due to injuries.
This will once again put pressure on Ancelotti, as far as the team selection is concerned.
Rudiger & Tchouameni to partner at centre-back vs Valencia
Fortunately for the Real Madrid coach, much of his experimentations this season have worked, including Aurelien Tchouameni’s supreme performances at centre-back.
With that in mind, Diario AS reports Ancelotti is considering playing a makeshift central defensive pair against Valencia, comprising Antonio Rudiger and Tchouameni.
This is not the first time the young Frenchman will have to accompany Rudiger at centre-back. He did so earlier in the year when Real Madrid took on RCD Mallorca.
Interestingly, Real Madrid were able to retain a clean sheet, with Rudiger scoring the winning goal, in a narrow 1-0 victory.
What are Ancelotti’s other options?
Ancelotti will be hoping for a similar outcome this time around. However, it must be noted that the Italian will be boosted by the return of Dani Carvajal from suspension.
The veteran Spaniard can be an option at centre-back. But given the way how Tchouameni has impressed onlookers with his performances at centre-back, there is very little reason why he shouldn’t continue in the position.
Tchouameni has even been compared to Javier Mascherano by former Spanish coach Roberto Moreno.
Other than Carvajal, though, Nacho Fernandez is another option for Ancelotti. But the veteran defender is suffering with discomfort and Ancelotti has no plans to risk it.