Federico Valverde is having a season to remember so far. The Real Madrid midfielder has emerged as one of the best performers in La Liga, with the Uruguayan even being nominated for the prestigious Player of the Month award for September.
In light of Valverde’s excellent start to the season, Diario AS has come out with an insightful report on the player’s early days in Uruguay.
The report suggests Valverde might not have played for Real Madrid had it not been for a change of fate, as it was Arsenal who were close to securing his services, shortly before his move to Santiago Bernabeu.
Francis Cagigao, Arsene Wenger’s right-hand man for over two decades at Arsenal, had his eye on Valverde since he was 16 and playing for Penarol. He had closely monitored the youngster’s progress in Uruguay, with the player even travelling to London in December 2014 to train with Arsenal.
Valverde spent six days in London, training with the U23s and even with the first team. Arsenal took the negotiations open step further by travelling to Montevideo to finalise a deal. All the parties involved even reached an agreement over Valverde’s potential move to the Emirates Stadium.
But the player opted to wait on a move due to the South American U17 Championships. He ended up as one of the best performers in the competition, eventually attracting interest from a host of top clubs across Europe.
Arsenal claimed to be the front-runner in the race, citing a previous agreement. Valverde’s family was even willing to honour the agreement. But a bidding war between the top European clubs eventually saw Real Madrid reaching a €5 million agreement with Penarol.
It was higher than the €3 million Arsenal were willing to fork out for the Uruguayan at the time. As a result, Valverde ended up joining the ranks at Real Madrid Castilla in 2016, where he teamed up with other youngsters such as Martin Odegaard, Sergio Reguilon and Achraf Hakimi.
Six years later, Valverde has become central to Real Madrid’s first team and is tipped to become the face of the club’s midfield unit, especially with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric currently in the final phase of their respective careers.
Real Madrid duo out of Mallorca clash, but could return for Club World Cup
Real Madrid secured a 2-0 victory over Valencia on Thursday night, maintaining their five-point difference at the top of the table and keeping up with their arch-rivals FC Barcelona.
But the win came at its own costs, with both Eder Militao and Karim Benzema picking up fresh knocks that prompted their substitutions.
Benzema appeared to have taken a knock in his groin. He was substituted around the half-hour mark by Rodrygo, whereas Militao picked up a knock quite early on in the game, but continued to play. The Brazilian was ultimately taken off in the 36th minute.
After the game, it was reported that Benzema’s blow was not expected to be serious. And as per a recent report from Mario Cortegana of The Athletic, it appears both and Militao are set to undergo tests tomorrow.
First reviews suggest they are both set to be ruled out in the upcoming game against Mallorca in La Liga. But there is optimism they can be fit for the Club World Cup matches next week.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid have been handed boost in the fitness of Toni Kroos, David Alaba and Dani Ceballos. The report suggests all three players are expected to return to training tomorrow and will be available against Mallorca.
Real Madrid, though, may not have the luxury of having Lucas Vazquez back at their disposal in the coming matches. The wide player is still nursing his injury and it will be a surprise to see him return to full fitness for the Club World Cup matches next week.
Los Merengue are set to kickstart their Club World Cup campaign on Wednesday in Morocco, though their opponent for the semi-final encounter has not yet been decided.