Federico Valverde has been one of the top performers at Real Madrid this season, with the midfielder recently bagging the La Liga Player of the Month accolade.
In light of his excellent performances, Valverde praised Carlo Ancelotti for maintaining trust in his qualities while hailing his own development over the past few years.
“Now he is giving me more prominence, he already gave it to me at the end of last season. Carlo with a look is already telling you many things, which make you grow as a player and as a person. On Sunday I did not play as a starter. Before I used to get angry. Today I have learned,” Valverde told Ovacion (h/t MARCA).
The midfielder went on to talk about his development over the years, suggesting that he has earned his place in the Real Madrid team.
“The Fede Valverde of today is not the same as the one of three years ago. Through effort and humility I have earned my place in the team; today I feel very important”.
Valverde even responded to comparisons with Steven Gerrard made by Luis Suarez, saying: “It’s spectacular that they compare you with a player like that, with a star, a world idol. It’s spectacular, I do see characteristics of him.”
With six goal involvements in ten matches, Valverde has been extremely successful this season, even when deployed in a wide attacking role. However, the player prefers to play in the midfield as it gives him more freedom.
“I feel very good in the middle. I think that is where I can show my qualities the most and help the team, in defence and attack. When you play there you have more freedom than on the wing,” he added.
Finally, the 24-year-old Real Madrid star revealed his dream of winning the World Cup: “We have the illusion of winning the World Cup and bringing that little gift to the whole country that they deserve so much.”
Uruguay have won the World Cup only twice in their history: one in the inaugural year of 1930 and another in 1950. They have not won the coveted tournament since, but Valverde wants to make it happen in 2022.
“I won the Champions League, but I want the World Cup more than anything,” he said.
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.