Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is hardly the man expected to take a decision from his heart. The 71-year-old enjoys a reputation of being extremely cold-hearted and emotionally detached when it comes to taking decisions catering to the interests of the club. Some of the finest managers in football history like Carlo Ancelloti, Jose Mourinho, Vicente del Bosque, Rafael Benitez will willingly testify to the fact that dealing with a shrewd tactician like Perez is no mean feat in itself.
However, there was something amiss in the air as the old warhorse unveiled Marco Asensio, the 20-year-old midfielder who was signed in December 2014 for just €3.5 million euros from Real Mallorca. The President had rarely expressed a desire to involve himself in player presentations over the years having unveiled the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Gareth Bale with nothing with a smile on his face. The media personnel had expected nothing short of a mundane event which would follow due formalities without anything interesting to write home about. Those gathered were all set to slam their books shut as President Perez made his way up to the podium.
“Your parents met me 12 years ago in Mallorca and they told me: ‘president, this is my son Marco and one day he will play for Real Madrid’,” Perez told Asensio. “Back then, you were eight years old.” The businessman had finally given the world a glimpse of his softer side, a side which he had hidden astutely over the years. However, while the media was more than happy to discuss the ceremony taking into consideration the Real Madrid president’s remarks, only a few could ever have realised that they had just enjoyed the presence of a player more than capable of emerging as the next Galactico.
While one might murmur in disagreement terming the statement as nothing short of a tried and tested PR stunt for drawing the limelight towards new Real Madrid acquisitions, Asensio had managed to grab the attention of tennis star Rafael Nadal, a loyal Los Blancos fan with his capabilities and talent. Nadal believed that Asensio had every chance of emerging as the next Galactico and personally interacted with president Perez in order to ensure a move to Real Madrid at any cost. The Spanish midfielder had big boots to fill and he knew that the path to success at his new club was hardly going to be a joy ride.
Asensio found first-team opportunities hard to come by early on, with the club more than happy to ship him off on loan to Espanyol in order to ensure regular game time. The 22-year-old recognised the glorious opportunity presented in the form of a loan stint at a La Liga club of reasonable stature and set about ensuring excellent performances through thick and thin. With 4 goals and 15 assists despite not enjoying the presence of star attackers up front, Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane had finally seen enough to realise that the youngster enjoyed some serious potential and was more than deserving of an opportunity at the highest level.
Asensio was handed regular opportunities in pre-season clashes against Bayern Munich, PSG and Chelsea where he did his glowing reputation no harm with sublime performances.
However, the 22-year-old had one stern final test in store for him before enjoying the first-team opportunities he craved for. Real Madrid were all set to face off against Seville in the Super Cup final with the latter hailed for their ability to ensure formidable performances against the best of opposition. A poor performance on the night could have proved fatal for Asensio who decided to give the world a real indication of the massive talent in his arsenal by scoring a world-class long ranger from outside the box.
Manager Zinedine Zidane had seen enough and went about ensuring regular opportunities for the youngster which the latter did full justice to with his vision, composure in front of goal, awareness and determination to excel at any cost. Asensio’s dominating performances against quality opposition like Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville have seen him emerge as one of the most exciting footballers currently in world football.
Newly appointed manager Julen Lopetegui has further expressed a keen desire to deploy the Spanish midfielder in a False 9 role in the absence of club legend Cristiano Ronaldo. Ensuring the same hunger in front of goal along with consistent performances will certainly help Asensio realise his true potential by emerging as Real Madrid’s next Galactico in the coming years.
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