When Real Madrid took on Mallorca at the weekend, they were stunned in the 35th minute by Vedat Muriqi’s headed opener. Los Blancos laboured for the next ten minutes hoping to level the scores and the equaliser finally came through Federico Valverde.
The Uruguayan International took matters into his own hands in the dying minutes of the first half as he dribbled across half the field, to the edge of the area, and fired a bullet past the opposition goalkeeper.
The midfielder is slowly growing into one of Real Madrid’s most dependable faces and has a big future ahead of him. Needless to say, the club wish to hold on to him for years to come. At the same time, though, it seems like Valverde is gaining admirers across Europe.
According to reports from AS, Liverpool were interested in signing Valverde in the last two days of the transfer window. The Merseyside team were willing to shell out €100 million for his services but Los Blancos firmly denied them as they had no interest in losing the Uruguayan.
The Premier League side desperately needed an extra body in midfield given their injury crisis and Valverde was one of the top names on their list. Eventually, they signed Arthur Melo from Juventus on a loan deal.
Valverde has been sensational for the men in white this season, scoring two goals and providing an assist in just five appearances. He averages two key passes and close to four defensive actions per ninety minutes.
He faces tough competition to start with Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Eduardo Camavinga and Dani Ceballos providing a similar profile. But, the fact that Carlo Ancelotti sees him as an option on the right-wing has meant that he has not been shy of regular game-time.
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.