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Real Madrid midfielder ‘one of the best’ along with De Bruyne, says South Korea manager

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Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid and Uruguay midfielder Federico Valverde is one of the best in the world along with Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, according to South Korea national team manager Paulo Bento.

Valverde is enjoying a spectacular campaign with Real Madrid and is all set to play an important role for the Uruguayan national team at the FIFA World Cup when La Celeste begin their campaign tomorrow against South Korea.

And the Asian nation’s manager, Bento, has hailed Valverde, calling him one of the best in the game currently along with Manchester City superstar De Bruyne.

“Valverde is a fantastic player, with an extraordinary technical quality, with a physical dimension…. He can be considered with De Bruyne as one of the best midfielders,” Bento said in his press conference, as quoted by Mundo Deportivo.

“He has a great influence on the way Uruguay play and from midfield, he can solve a game. They are very strong collectively and individually,” he added.

Valverde has made a brilliant start to the 2022/23 season with Real Madrid, emerging as one of their best players for the champions of Spain and Europe.

In 20 matches across all competitions for Los Blancos this term, the 24-year-old has netted eight goals and set up four more for his teammates.

Be it playing in central midfield or on the right flank, Valverde has excelled under Carlo Ancelotti’s tutelage and will now hope to carry that form forward on the biggest stage of all at the World Cup.

Uruguay are drawn in Group H along with South Korea, Ghana, and Portugal, who will be led by former Real Madrid superstar and club legend Cristiano Ronaldo.

Along with veteran stars like Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, Valverde will have an integral role to play if La Celeste are to progress further in the competition.

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Real Madrid News

Ancelotti’s dilemma: How will he handle a fully fit defense next season?

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Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Real Madrid’s manager, Carlo Ancelotti, is set to face a challenging situation in restructuring his defence for the upcoming season and that is largely down to key players like David Alaba and Eder Militao are returning to full fitness. 

Interestingly, this situation might put Antonio Rudiger’s spot in the starting lineup under significant pressure.

Back when Rudiger joined Real Madrid he was supposed to strengthen a defence already featuring Alaba and Militao. Despite their young age, these two had firmly established themselves in the team. 

Over the past two years, however, Ancelotti has consistently relied on the duo, with Rudiger and Nacho serving as their main substitutes. 

A big decision awaits Ancelotti

As the new season approaches, Ancelotti faces a dilemma similar to the one he had with goalkeepers Andriy Lunin and Thibaut Courtois. A similar situation is likely to unfold with Rudiger and Militao vying for the right centre-back position.

It must be remembered that Militao suffered an untimely injury last season, prompting Ancelotti to choose Rudiger over Nacho, who, although right-footed, is also adept on the left side. 

Carlo Ancelotti needs to assess his defensive duo for next season. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images)

As the season progressed, Rudiger proved his worth, becoming a mainstay in the defense. His physical strength, bravery, and aerial prowess made him a reliable choice. 

His ability to play out from the back earned him the respect and confidence of his teammates, overshadowing Militao’s absence.

Rudiger’s importance has grown

Rudiger’s importance grew further when Alaba got injured in December. He became the cornerstone of the defence, often partnering with Nacho or Aurelien Tchouameni. Even when Rudiger played on the left side, the defensive structure remained solid.

When Militao returned in the last month and a half of the season, he struggled to regain his previous form. The long recovery period left emotional scars, and he was not the same player he had been before the injury. 

Consequently, Ancelotti opted to keep Rudiger in the lineup for crucial matches towards the end of the season.

With the new season on the horizon, Rudiger’s strong performances will present a significant challenge for Ancelotti. 

As Alaba also returns from injury, Ancelotti will have to decide who among Rudiger, Militao, and Alaba will be benched. 

Rudiger has proven his capability, often outperforming the Brazilian, whose post-injury form is still uncertain. 

Adding to the competition, Real Madrid might sign Leni Yoro and even Rafa Marin could return from his loan spell which could further complicate Ancelotti’s decisions.

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