It is no secret that Real Madrid superstar Jude Bellingham idolises club legend Zinedine Zidane. The 20-year-old midfielder has always spoken of how he adulates the former midfielder and manager.
In fact, upon arriving at the club this past summer, Bellingham opted to go for the No. 5 jersey, made iconic by Zidane during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu.
“I admire Zidane very much, his legacy in this club and with this number. It’s a number that inspires me. The 22 has been my number for a long time, but now I will take the 5,” he had said at his presentation.
“The shirt itself is a responsibility and the fact of wearing the ‘5’ may weigh more but for me it is a challenge to keep up with the number because Zidane was the best,” he further added.
Zidane also a fan of Bellingham
Now, it so happens that Zidane himself as a big fan of Bellingham. Indeed, speaking during an interview today, the former Real Madrid midfielder and manager hailed the Englishman, calling him an incredible talent while admitting that he is an admirer of the 20-year-old.
Speaking to AS, Zidane said: “[Bellingham] is an incredible player. He is a player who does incredible things. You could have guessed what he was going to do with all the stats he’s been beating with what he’s doing.
“Especially at his age. Because let’s not forget he’s only 20 years old.”
Further praising the young Englishman, Zidane added: “He came in with a lot of desire, a lot of goals, that’s what he’s doing.
“He’s setting the bar very high and he’s just showing everybody what he is and it’s great to see him like that.”
Zidane then admitted that he is a big fan of Bellingham and wants him to win a lot of trophies with Real Madrid.
“Anyway, I’m a big fan of his. Now I want him to win trophies with Real Madrid. That’s all I wish for him,” concluded the French legend.
Bellingham currently injured
After scoring a brace against Girona this past Saturday, Bellingham took his tally for the season to 20 goals in all competitions.
However, during that match, the Merengues’ top scorer for the season also suffered an ankle injury that is set to sideline him for a few weeks.
As such, Bellingham is out of tonight’s UEFA Champions League clash against RB Leipzig and is only expected back in early March.
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.