Real Madrid have now reached that stage in their transition where the number of youngsters outnumber the veterans on the field.
The midfield and forward line have a whole new look to them, but Dani Carvajal remains one of the few unchallenged veterans in Carlo Ancelotti’s lineup.
The right-back has started all four of Los Blancos games this season. With Luka Modric and Nacho Fernandez largely restricted to the bench, he is in fact the team captain more often than not.
Carvajal spoke to Sergio Santos earlier this week in a detailed interview that encompassed both on-field and off-field aspects of his life. Here are the snippets from the interaction.
On the Kylian Mbappe saga
Perhaps the most awaited part of Dani Carvajal’s interview was the segment where he spoke about Real Madrid’s pursuit of Kylian Mbappe. He first revealed that he was convinced the player would move to Bernabeu this summer but admitted to not talking to the administration about it.
“Did I ask José Ángel Sánchez about Mbappé? No, we were asking the French players.”
“I thought Mbappé was coming to Real Madrid. We were asking the French players: ‘Hey, does this guy tell you anything?'”
“Did I think Mbappé would come this summer? I’m not going to lie to you and I’m going to tell you that they didn’t talk, but there were all kinds of opinions in the pre-season after-dinners: ‘Well, I think he’s coming, well, I don’t think so,'” he admitted about the sensations in the dressing room on the subject.
He then added that Mbappe’s omission from PSG’s preseason squad appeared to be the final straw that convinced him of the winger’s transfer.
“I thought he was coming. At the moment he did not travel to the Japan tour. At the moment when he was out of the tour, we saw his signing close. Then it seems that everything twisted a little and did not come.”
Finally, he opened the doors for Mbappe to arrive next summer, saying, “Let’s see… He’s one of the best and the best have to play for Real Madrid.”
The recent streak of fitness
Injuries have plagued Carvajal for a long time in his career at Real Madrid, but he has enjoyed a relatively fit streak in recent times. Speaking on overcoming the difficult setbacks, he said,
“I am very happy about it. Injuries for an athlete are the most frustrating, when you link relapses you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am very proud of myself, of my family who have helped me, of my friends.”
“I am very proud to have been able to overcome it. I would tell you that that comforts me much more than some title that I have achieved because they are stones in the path that you overcome and that morally hits you with a high,” he added.
The Spanish defender then stressed the importance of mental health alongside physical fitness and how it was crucial to stay in the right state of mind.
“Mentally in football, there are many emotions, many moments of form and moods. You should try not to be influenced by your personal life in sports and sports in your personal life. Separate it, know that it is a very passionate job, in which you respond to many people.”
With age comes responsibility, especially in the world of football. On his role and image at this stage of his career, Carvajal said,
“In Madrid and the National Team, I am an image and I must know what I represent.”
Finally, he spoke on the dietary changes he has made in recent times.
“I have removed the gluten from my diet and I avoid a lot of red meat, I only take it on a few days. Also doing good preparation with supplementation, in the post-games. I send a greeting to Itziar (his nutritionist), he has allowed me to find a good balance.”
On his relationship with Joselu, on and off the field
Dani Carvajal and Joselu’s connection off the field goes far back, for the wives of both players are sisters. Speaking on the new signing, Carvajal said,
“I am very happy for him, we already had a very good relationship before meeting my wife (their wives are sisters), I went to meet his son a long time ago and thanks to our relationship I have met the woman of my life and I have two children with her.”
“Now we have a much stronger family relationship. I feel very proud. He is 33 years old and I see the face of illusion with which he faces every game and every training that he says: ‘This is the beauty of football and Real Madrid, which means for the people’,” he added.
The veteran was then asked why Joselu did not choose the No. 9 despite it being vacant.
“Why did Joselu not choose the number 9? The thing about the number 9, the truth is that I don’t know, I haven’t asked him. I imagine they didn’t let him choose or I don’t know, I wouldn’t know how to tell you,” he modestly admitted.
Jude Bellingham, the star boy
The question about Jude Bellingham and his impact on the team was always around the corner during Carvajal’s interview. The new signing has enjoyed a phenomenal start to life in Madrid, and the club veteran admitted that it was staggering to watch.
“I was not around for the adaptation of players like Cristiano or Ramos. But since I’ve been here I’ve never seen an adaptation like Bellingham’s own. Not only in sports, which he offers a very high performance but also in the locker room, the relationship with us.”
“He comes with high pressure, he cost a lot of money, all the spotlights are on him. From the first moment he stays and talks with players, he talks with one, and another, he jokes. He trains and stays to work. I think he is a fantastic boy who has fallen on his feet,” he added on the youngster who has been making waves across Europe.
Finally, he spoke about the language barrier with the young midfielder and how they overcame the hurdle.
“He tries, he tries to relate. He still doesn’t talk much, but he says his words and thus understands you, that is appreciated.”
On being a club captain
Not many get the privilege of wearing the captain’s armband for a club of Real Madrid’s stature. As the third captain behind Nacho Fernandez and Luka Modric, Carvajal has started three of Los Blancos’ games with the armband on.
“No, we haven’t changed anything. We have been in the same direction for so many years that we have to continue in the same line as we had. I am very proud to be one of the captains,” he said on whether the captains had made any changes yet.
He then spoke on what it meant to him to be one of the four leaders of the dressing room, saying,
“When I had to wear the armband, imagine the pride I feel. Personally, wearing it gives me extra strength. Being captain of Madrid, imagine what it means for me and my family, for me it is very special that they feel proud of me.”
Carvajal’s interview concluded with a question on Nacho Fernandez’s renewal and whether the captaincy had anything to do with it.
“I think so. Nacho is a club man, he loves Real Madrid above all things, and being able to be the captain as he is, is something that in your career will remain forever. I think it’s something of weight that influenced him,” Carvajal said.
French midfielder admits considering PSG move before Real Madrid called him
Aurelien Tchouameni has had an exciting start to his career at Real Madrid. Since joining the club for almost €80 million last summer, the young Frenchman has now become a pivotal figure in Real Madrid’s midfield unit.
However, prior to his move to Santiago Bernabeu, the midfielder was closely linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
In a recent interview, Tchouameni opened up on his links to PSG but revealed his decision to join Real Madrid.
Aurelien Tchouameni on PSG links
Talking about speculations linking him to PSG, Tchouameni said (h/t Madrid Zone), “PSG? Frankly, I thought about it. It’s a very big European club, we want the French clubs to succeed.”
“But honestly, when Real Madrid calls you, it’s very complicated to say no,” Tchouameni added.
The midfielder was linked with a move to PSG during his time at AS Monaco. Les Parisiens wanted to sign the youngster as part of their plans to reinforce the midfield unit.
Tchouameni, though, ended up opting for a move to Real Madrid, which turned out to be a prudent decision from the midfielder’s end.
Tchouameni’s career at Real Madrid
Aurelien Tchouameni made a total of 50 competitive appearances during his maiden season at Real Madrid.
Although the Frenchman was not entirely a first-team regular in Carlo Ancelotti’s setup, his stature in the team is expected to grow in the coming years.
Especially as Toni Kroos and Luka Modric move on at the end of the season, there is scope for Tchouameni to become a first-team regular in the Real Madrid midfield in the years to come.
The former AS Monaco starlet has already played a crucial role in the starting eleven so far this season and it is only going to continue as the season progresses.