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Rodrygo talks Modric, Vinicius, Kroos, Zidane: “When I saw him for the first time, I was afraid”

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Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images

Rodrygo joined the Real Madrid roster in 2019, having been bought by from Santos for €45 million in 2018.

Even as a teenager, his talents stood out vividly in South America, compelling Real Madrid to make a move for the youngster when he was just 18.

Now, at the age of 23, Rodrygo has blossomed into a terrific footballer who continues to improve with each passing week and has been a vital contributor for the Merengues.

Towards the end of last year, Real Madrid even rewarded Rodrygo with an extension until 2028, showing their appreciation for the talented winger.

Speaking to El Pais in an extensive interview, Rodrygo touched upon his past and his time at Real Madrid.

Understandably intimidated by the host of stars at Real Madrid upon his arrival, Rodrygo claimed he was embarrassed to be in the presence of such greatness.

“On my first day with Real Madrid, I was a little embarrassed when I arrived here, with so many great players.

“The coach was Zidane. And when I saw Zidane for the first time, the truth was that I was afraid. But it was a very beautiful moment, Then I talked to him. That day was like a dream for me,” he remarked.

There remain no doubts about Rodrygo’s talents, but he has not always had the best of fortune in front of goal. Commenting on the fact that he went through an 11-game goal drought recently he said:

“I was angry, because I tried to score goals in every way, and it didn’t work. In those moments, you try to be calm, because people tell you: ‘Stay calm, and then it will get better again.’

But you see that you try one vindication after another and it doesn’t go well, and you feel sad and a little angry.”

However, he argued channeling more peace and focus into his mind eventually helped him get past that barrier, stating: “But there came a time when I saw that anger and sadness would not help me. I had to be more focused, train more, be calmer in matches, and from here the goals started coming.”

Rodrygo showed gratitude to one man in particular, Luka Modric. The pair’s special bond has been no secret and the Brazilian highlighted that his advice helped him immensely.

“I always say that Luka Modric was like a father to me. He always helped me in these moments (when he was not scoring goals).

“He would talk to me and tell me: ‘Don’t worry, you are very good, things will be fine’. From here, I started to feel calmer and things became better for me,” he mentioned.

Rodrygo, Modric share an excellent relationship. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Paying emphasis on the importance of mental fortitude, Rodrygo claimed his surroundings helped him, especially in developing resilience.

“This was something I learned when I arrived in Madrid. I had a mentality and now I think completely differently, because my teammates helped me, and my family and my friends helped me.

“Now I see that the most important thing of all is the mentality. If you keep calm if you think… in the good things, you will show good things in the matches,” he said.

The Brazilian has been availed in multiple positions of the front line, which he admitted is not easy but something he is always willing to do for the betterment of the team.

“It’s a bit difficult to always change positions, but I always told the coach that I am at his disposal and that I will play wherever he wants. I told him that I can play as a number 9, 10, or as a winger. That’s why he always puts me where he needs me. I sacrifice myself for the team,” he mentioned.

“The most important thing is for the team to win games. In this part of the season, I sacrificed a little bit, playing out of position and it was important, because the team was winning, and almost never lost a game.

“After that it was better, because I started scoring goals. But in this part of the season I was just helping the team,” Rodrygo added.

Touching upon a difficult moment in his career, Rodrygo looked back at his penalty miss against Croatia in the 2022 World Cup.

“I think it was the worst moment of my career so far. I hope there will not be worse. It was difficult, because I was taking penalties when Benzema wasn’t there, and I scored them all. I went to the World Cup calmly, and I was sure I was going to score, but I failed,” he mourned.

Rodrygo missed his penalty vs Croatia at the World Cup. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

However, assuring that miss will not keep him down and he is intent on getting back into his groove from the spot, he uttered: “I’m sure I’ll take penalties again and score again like I did before.”

Reminiscing about the historic 2022 Champions League title Real Madrid won in which Rodrygo had a critical role to play, the youngster gave his two cents on the Remontadas.

“The truth is that if you watch the match against Chelsea or against City, we were attacking a little bit more. Against Chelsea, we were very bad. They attacked a lot and defended very well. We were not doing anything.

“The moment was a little more difficult against Chelsea. But, of course, against City it was crazy, it was special,” he conveyed.

“I have no way to explain it. Players like Modric or Kroos are always calm. But in the match against City, I don’t think they were very confident. We were really exhausted, and no one believed we could come back,” the 23-year-old added.

Speaking on the delicate matter of racism, Rodrygo lamented: “It happens a lot, not only with me. It happened with Vinicius, and with other players as well. We are in a very sad moment, we still have people talking about it. I try not to look at social media, but it is normal for me.

“I see something, but in my mind there is calm. I think the other players do too, and I’m sure we will overcome it.”

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid midfielder on Kylian Mbappe’s potential arrival: “He’s always welcome”

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Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Over the past few years, the story of Kylian Mbappe’s move to Real Madrid has dominated media outlets regularly. The 25-year-old has been at the club’s doorstep several times in the past, but the deal was never complicated.

There, is, however, something different about the rumours this time around. Mbappe has openly announced his departure from PSG not only to the administration but also to the dressing room, when his contract expires in the summer.

Furthermore, it has also been reported that Mbappe’s arrival has also been announced in the Real Madrid locker room.

Comment from a player

Despite rumours strongly doing the rounds, there has been a queer silence from the offices and dressing room of Real Madrid over Mbappe’s possible signing.

However, Los Blancos’ star midfielder Federico Valverde broke the ice over the World Cup winner’s arrival, saying,

“Kylian Mbappé is a great player, he’s always welcome,” he said via El Chiringuito.

As revealed recently, the Merengues have tabled a proposal involving wages between €19 million to €22 million per season, a Ballon d’Or clause of €15 million and a massive signing-on bonus for the player.

It remains to be seen, however, if the Frenchman’s entourage are satisfied with the offer.

Tactical manoeuvres

Mbappe’s arrival will bring another of world football’s elite names into the dressing room at Santiago Bernabeu.

With Vinicius Jr already firmly rooted in the left-wing position, however, Mbappe will not have his preferred position available at Real Madrid.

Carlo Ancelotti thus sees three possible tactical adjustments to fit Mbappe into his dynamics. Two of the aforementioned three ideas see a 4-4-2 adopted with Rodrygo being dropped, while a 4-3-3 would mean Real Madrid sacrifice a midfielder like Eduardo Camavinga.

Needless to say, the pressure will be on Ancelotti to find a role for the Frenchman superstar without affecting the team’s current dynamics or balance.

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