After Real Madrid’s 2-1 triumph in El Clasico against Barcelona, manager Carlo Ancelotti received some bad news: key midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni had suffered a foot fracture, sidelining him for two months.
After a mixed debut campaign in France, during which he struggled in the second half of the season, Tchouameni has featured much more prominently this time out.
Indeed, this season, the 23-year-old French midfielder played for 1,020 minutes, making him Real Madrid’s fourth most-utilized player on the field. Ancelotti’s men never lost a match this season when Tchouameni played.
Tchouameni seen as a ‘phenomenon’
The Athletic’s Guillermo Rai has come up with a report that highlights the importance that Real Madrid give to Tchouameni in the team.
Tchouameni has been a key player, fitting in perfectly with Ancelotti’s 4-4-2 formation. He holds the midfield together, giving the other midfielders the chance to roam freely.
This has helped him to cement his place at the Santiago Bernabeu since joining from Monaco in the summer of 2022.
“He is one of the phenomena in the squad,” a senior Real Madrid source told The Athletic. “We have not considered selling him despite Premier League interest this summer.”
Indeed, there had been reports of interest from the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal, who were looking for reinforcements in midfield.
Both clubs continue to monitor the French international heading into 2024, but Los Blancos have no plans to sell him.
Plans to deal with his injury
As such, given how important Tchouameni is, his absence through injury comes as a major blow for Ancelotti and Real Madrid.
But the Merengues already have plans in place to cope with his absence over the next couple of months or so.
According to sources from Madrid’s coaching staff, Eduardo Camavinga and Kroos are both prepared to fill Tchouameni’s role in central midfield.
Ancelotti will determine which player to use based on the opponent, but it is understood that Kroos will feature more frequently than anticipated.
Real Madrid youngster in line for significant minutes against Granada – report
Nico Paz was long hyped as Real Madrid Castilla’s brightest upcoming star. The media constantly kept the spotlight on the young Argentine through pre-season as he made a strong impression under Carlo Ancelotti in preseason.
His breakthrough eventually arrived, courtesy of Real Madrid’s injury crisis. He has now made two appearances for the team in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League and even recorded his first goal for the club earlier this week against Napoli.
Taking his chances
As revealed by AS (h/t The Madrid Zone), Paz has impressed management with his cameo against Napoli and will be called up for Real Madrid’s clash against Granada tomorrow.
In fact, there is a good chance he sees significant game time on the night.
After all, Ancelotti is without the likes of Luka Modric, Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga in the middle of the park.
With Toni Kroos, Dani Ceballos, Federico Valverde, and Jude Bellingham filling the starting spots, Paz serves as the manager’s first-choice backup off the bench.
Paz voices his elation
Paz’s introduction against Napoli changed the texture of the game, and it was only poetic that he got the goal that put Real Madrid ahead again on the night.
Speaking to the media after his special night, the Castilla star did not hold back on his emotions.
“This is a dream. For a moment I didn’t even believe it. Very happy to be able to help the team. I dared. I was in automatic mode, I didn’t even know what I was doing. I hit it and well.”
“This is also a message for the other youth players: it is possible to get there. Ancelotti congratulated me, and the whole staff. They are an incredible group and I want to thank them all,” he added, urging his Castilla teammates to keep pushing.