The past few years have not been very kind for Real Madrid Marco Asensio. Once regarded as the future of the team, the Spaniard has found it hard to stay relevant in the side and hit the heights expected of him following his return from a long-term injury.
The 26-year-old winger seemed headed for the exit doors in the summer after contract negotiations broke down. But he ended up staying ultimately, although his future continues to hang in the balance as his deal runs out at the end of the season.
Asensio started the 2022/23 season as a peripheral figure in Carlo Ancelotti’s side but gained prominence prior to the World Cup, when he put in some important performances. It has led to speculations that the Spaniard could be in line for an extension at Real Madrid.
Given all the ups and downs he has had to go through, Asensio opened up on how he dealt with the difficult situations in a recent press conference, saying (h/t MARCA):
“It’s a mix of many things. Family support… Even though I’m young, I’ve been a professional for a long time and I know how things are. I analyze the situation and I look at myself so that what’s outside doesn’t influence me. And I follow the path I set for myself without being hindered by the outside world.”
Even though he was not a regular for Real Madrid, Spain manager Luis Enrique called him up to the national team during the previous international break and included him in the World Cup squad as well.
And Asensio has repaid the faith with a stellar performance for La Roja in their 7-0 triumph over Costa Rica in the World Cup opener.
Talking about playing an important role in the national team setup, Asensio said: “Luis Enrique’s call made me very excited. I had hopes of being here and I took advantage of the opportunity. I was able to keep coming back and that makes me feel very good.”
“I feel very good. Personally, I’m happy for the goal and for being able to contribute a lot to the team. I fit in with what Luis Enrique asks of me and I am very happy for the confidence he is giving me,” he added.
With his Real Madrid future still uncertain, Asensio was asked if he felt the World Cup could be a turning point. In response, the former RCD Mallorca winger said:
“A World Cup is always important for any player. I don’t know if it’s a turning point, but for me it’s very important. A World Cup is every four years and it’s special because of everything I’ve been through and because of how special this group is, not because my contract is up.”
Asensio has been asked to play as a false-nine by Enrique in the national team setup recently. On the change of the role, the Real Madrid star said:
“From the first day Luis Enrique told me that I could play in several positions. Playing ‘9’ means that everyone has to respect his space because we play as a team in a way that we all have to be coordinated. And that’s what he asks of me.”
On the criticism he has had to face in the past, Asensio insisted it was important for any player to learn from the good and the bad, saying:
“I’m in a good moment. I’m taking it calmly and, as for the criticism of the past… you have to learn from both the bad and the good. I have matured a lot personally and professionally and that shows when it comes to playing. I hope to continue like this.”
The Real Madrid winger also spoke highly of Barcelona midfielder and Spain teammate Gavi, who was one of the protagonists in Spain’s win over Costa Rica.
“Sometimes it’s surprising what he does at 18 years old. I watch him train and he has a great level and a lot of self-confidence. For outsiders, he can be surprising, but we know what he can give us in this World Cup,” Asensio said on Gavi.
The 26-year-old also sent a message to Barcelona youngster Alejandro Balde, who made his Spain debut yesterday, saying: “Let him play the way he knows how. Try to do what the coach asks us to do without any pressure and that we continue along that line.”
UFC Champion to kick off Real Madrid vs Sevilla, sends message to Mbappe: “Lucky to play for the best club in the world”
Coming on the back of his triumph at UFC, Featherweight champion Ilia Topuria has announced he will take honorary kick-off in the upcoming Real Madrid vs Sevilla in La Liga this weekend.
Topuria confirmed this in a recent press conference in the Spanish capital this midweek.
A self-proclaimed Madridista, Topuria expressed his deep connection with the club and even sent a message to Kylian Mbappe, who is widely expected to join the club on a free transfer this summer.
Ilia Topuria: A hardcore Madridista
Ilia Topuria did not hold back his affection for Real Madrid, stating, “For me, the team that represents the values of Spain the most is Real Madrid.”
The Georgian-Spaniard UFC champion went on to confirm that he will meet Florentino Perez on Sunday and take the kick-off.
“I’m going to meet Florentino Perez on Sunday and take the kick-off,” he said (h/t Mundo Deportivo).
Although born in Germany, Topuria made Spain proud last Saturday when he beat Alexander Volkanovski in the second round. In the process, he became the first fighter from Spain to capture a UFC belt.
Topuria’s triumph has granted him overnight success in Spain, with the 27-year-old even becoming a cultural icon for many.
Topuria’s message for Mbappe
Other than professing his love for Real Madrid, Ilia Topuria also had a message for Mbappe.
When asked about the Frenchman potentially joining Real Madrid this summer, he said, “Welcome. He’s lucky to play for the best club in the world.”
Real Madrid, for their part, also congratulated Topuria on his triumph. “Congratulations on your historic triumph for Spanish sport, Ilia Topuria. We are proud that a great Real Madrid fan like you becomes UFC world champion,” the club posted on X.
Real Madrid fans, meanwhile, will be excited to witness Topuria taking the honorary kickoff as Los Blancos take on Sevilla this weekend, with three crucial points on the line.