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Player Profile – Who is Leny Yoro and what can he bring to Ancelotti’s Real Madrid?



Photo by SAMEER AL-DOUMY/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid’s success last season might lead many to believe that the squad is already in perfect shape and that there’s no need to fix what is not broken

However, the Merengues are eager to leave no stone unturned ahead of next season and wish to make improvements in order to build on their previous achievements.

The departure of Nacho Fernandez and the injury crisis last season have only underscored the need for fortification in the squad this summer.

Securing Leny Yoro’s signature is one of the steps they intend to take to strengthen their defensive line.

Despite being inquired by various clubs, Yoro wishes only to don the Real Madrid jersey and reportedly already has an agreement in principle with Los Blancos over a transfer this summer.

Convincing Lille to abide by a transfer sum lower than their demands is not expected to be a walk in the park, but Yoro’s efforts ensure that Madrid stands a chance.

Delving deeper into his player profile, Real Madrid’s fondness for equipping coach Carlo Ancelotti with Yoro’s skillset makes a great deal of sense.

Player profile

Yoro, who was born in a Paris suburb in 2005, joined Lille’s first team at the age of sixteen years.

Indeed, at just 16, the right-footed central defender made his Ligue 1 debut, making history as the second-youngest player in the league’s history to do so. He overtook former Real Madrid player Eden Hazard in the process.

Yoro was a regular in the 2023/2024 season, helping the French team place fourth in Ligue 1 and advance to the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

Leny Yoro has impressed with his defensive acumen. (Photo by VALENTINE CHAPUIS/AFP via Getty Images)

A testament to his meteoric rise was that the legendary Thierry Henry included him in France’s preliminary squad for the 2024 Olympic Games.

The Frenchman is best known for his excellent composure in ground duels and ability to anticipate forwards’ intentions with a reactive style of play that draws parallels to the likes of Virgil Van Dijk and Nathan Ake.

What makes Leny Yoro a revered talent?

At 6’2″, Yoro naturally fits the mould of a complete center-back. His physical stature, speed, and lengthy stride highlight his early signs of footballing acumen.

While Yoro’s numbers do not immediately stand out, with merely 1.21 tackles and interceptions per 90, this is largely due to his role as the last-man defender.

His primary responsibility at Lille is to thwart attacks at critical moments, which naturally limits the volume of his defensive involvements.

Moreover, the 18-year-old’s positional intelligence allows him to anticipate and outfox opposing attackers pre-emptively, shuffling his body weight to close down the attacker before expertly lunging into a well-timed challenge.

Meanwhile, on the ball, he is a dependable source of progression. Yoro’s preparation before receiving the ball ensures he is well-placed to play the ball out from the back.

With 92.1% passes completed per 90, Yoro seldom suffers from lapses in possession. However, there is a case of him arguably playing it too safe as he has yet to fully bank on penetrative passes.

An area where the Frenchman particularly shines is knowing when to jump forward and close down the passing lane. When it comes to reading opponents’ attacking sequences meticulously, few can outshine him.

Why are Real Madrid eager to sign Yoro?

Yoro has the potential to be a top signing for Real Madrid. (Photo by SEBASTIEN SALOM-GOMIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Antonio Rudiger enjoyed a tremendous 2023/2024 season in the Spanish capital, leading Real Madrid to glory despite often being paired with makeshift centre-backs.

Next season, the club aims to lessen his burden and acquire a more complementary profile to be his acquaintance in the heart of defence.

While Eder Militao has returned from injury, the centre-back pairing of Militao and Rudiger leaves Real Madrid vulnerable during transitions due to their similar aggressive, front-footed playing styles.

In such scenarios, a balanced pairing of an aggressive centre-half and a cover defender is needed to provide stability.

And this is where Leny Yoro slots in. He is a reactive central defender, who would show his best attributes alongside Rudiger.

Rudiger is known to be front-footed in his defensive approach, often stepping out quickly to close down and press the receiving opponent in the middle.

On the other hand, Yoro thrives in making last-man tackles with his octopus legs and breaking up plays much later in their development.

Even with the ball, he is safe rather than adventurous, which indicates his future will likely involve partnering with a more expansive player, like Alexsandro at Lille, who is more progressive and willing to take risks.

As such, Yoro would not just be a long-term investment, but a potential partner to Rudiger in the years to come.

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Four reasons why Real Madrid must sign Leny Yoro right away




Photo by SAMEER AL-DOUMY/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid have been eyeing 18-year-old Lille centre-back Leny Yoro for several months. However, the uncertainty surrounding his arrival, whether this summer or next, has stirred much debate.

The primary obstacle is financial; Lille are holding out for a big transfer fee for their prized asset. But with Yoro’s contract set to expire in 12 months, Real Madrid are hesitant to make a significant investment.

Despite this, there are compelling reasons for the club to secure the 18-year-old’s services this summer.

Here are four reasons why Florentino Perez and Jose Angel Sanchez must go all out for the French teenager in the current transfer window.

1. The injury crisis

One of the most pressing reasons for Real Madrid to act now is the club’s recent struggle with injuries. Last season, the team faced one of the most severe injury crises in its history.

Just 48 hours before the start of the La Liga season, Thibaut Courtois suffered an ACL rupture in training. The opening match against Athletic Club saw another blow as Eder Militao also tore his ACL.

Leny Yoro is a top target for Real Madrid. (Photo by SEBASTIEN SALOM-GOMIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The injury woes did not end there. David Alaba, another key defender, suffered a similar fate in mid-December, tearing his ACL and subsequently damaging his meniscus.

These injuries left the team vulnerable, forcing Carlo Ancelotti to rely heavily on Antonio Rudiger. The German took on an immense workload, as he became one of the most frequently played players throughout the campaign.

Given this context, bolstering the defence with a promising young talent like Yoro is not just a luxury but a necessity. His presence would provide much-needed depth and help mitigate the risks associated with potential injuries to key defenders.

2. Contractual Concerns

Waiting until next summer to sign Yoro for free could be a gamble that backfires. While his contract with Lille is set to expire in 12 months, this period could see significant changes.

Lille might succeed in convincing the player to renew his contract, potentially including a substantial release clause. Such a scenario would make it more challenging and costly for Real Madrid to secure his signature.

Moreover, Yoro is already on the radar of several top European clubs like Manchester United and PSG. If Real Madrid delay their move, they risk losing him to another team.

The competitive nature of the transfer market means that any delay could see another club convincing Yoro to join them, especially if they present a more immediate and attractive offer.

3. Age and Potential

Yoro could be an excellent investment for Real Madrid. (Photo by SAMEER AL-DOUMY/AFP via Getty Images)

Leny Yoro’s age and potential make him an ideal long-term investment for Real Madrid. At just 18 years old, he has the potential to develop into a world-class centre-back.

With over 15 years of football ahead of him, the Frenchman represents a strategic acquisition that could solidify the Merengues’ defence for the next decade or more.

The departure of former captain Nacho Fernandez has left a void in the defence. This exit makes the need for a new centre-back even more urgent.

Yoro, standing at 1.88 meters, offers the physical presence and defensive capabilities that Real Madrid need. His youth also means he can be moulded to fit the club’s playing style and ethos, ensuring continuity and stability in the defensive line.

4. Fixture overload next season

Real Madrid played 56 games in all competitions in the 2023/24 season. If they do not make it past the group stage in any of the cup competitions in 2024/25, they will still play 59 games. Making it to the finals in all will result in 70 games all season.

This requires squad death for the upcoming season. With David Alaba still not back from injury and likely to return in 2025, Real Madrid’s options at centre-back ahead of the new season are Rudiger and Militao, with Aurelien Tchouameni a makeshift alternative.

As such, signing Yoro this summer will be a massive boost for the team to face the upcoming season, where the team will travel across three continents from July to May, playing around 70 games.

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