Dani Carvajal deserves more credit as a Real Madrid giant

Think of the stalwarts of this current Real Madrid team and your mind will likely flash to the likes of Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos, maybe even Luka Modric. These players provide the spine of Zinedine Zidane’s side and have done for the best part of the last decade, even more in the case of the former pair.

Dani Carvajal deserves to be mentioned among such company, though. The right back has been at the Santiago Bernabeu for the last seven years, nailing down a starting place in the Real Madrid defence. The Spanish international has been an integral figure for some of the most successful years of the club’s entire history and there’s no sign of any real decline despite some injury troubles in recent seasons.

And yet Carvajal’s contribution is often overlooked. His energy and drive gives Real Madrid a real attacking outlet down the right side, something which is particularly useful at the moment given Los Blancos’ lack of a true right winger. Gareth Bale, of course, could play that role, but the Welshman is currently out of the picture under Zidane. Carvajal brings many of the qualities that an out-and-out winger would.

Zidane recognises just how important a player Carvajal is even if others overlook him. Many expected Achraf Hakimi to challenge the 28-year-old for a starting place next season having enjoyed two extremely successful seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund. Indeed, the Moroccan is widely seen as one of the brightest youngest full backs in the game at this moment in time.

But Hakimi didn’t even make it back to the Spanish capital at the end of the 2019/20 season before being sold to Inter. This was a show of faith from Zidane in Carvajal. Alvaro Odriozola is another who was bought to provide competition to Carvajal, but was farmed out on loan when it became clear he wasn’t up to the task.

On the left side of the defence, Ferland Mendy has replaced Marcelo as Zidane’s first choice. The Frenchman has become Real Madrid’s primary left back, but on the other side of the pitch Carvajal can be as assured of his place as ever. Even if others don’t readily recognise the contribution of the 28-year-old, it is there and Zidane sees it. That’s all that really matters in the end.

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How will Achraf Hakimi fit in at Real Madrid next summer?

While the likes of Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard et al. have claimed the headlines for themselves since the resumption of the Spanish Liga season after the coronavirus hiatus, Real Madrid’s resurgence over the past few weeks has been built on a solid defence.

Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane’s centre back partnership is among the strongest in the European game right now, with Marcelo and Ferland Mendy rotating in and out of Zinedine Zidane’s starting lineup to great effect. And at right back Dani Carvajal has found fitness to become a reliable performance once again after some injury troubles.

Carvajal could have some competition for his place after the summer, though. Achraf Hakimi is set to return to the Santiago Bernabeu after two years on loan at Borussia Dortmund, with the Moroccan earning a reputation for himself as one of the brightest young players in the European game at this moment.

Hakimi is a formidable force down the right wing and having been given his first chance at Real Madrid by Zidane there’s reason to believe he will be given another chance in the Spanish capital next season. Along with the likes of Martin Odegaard and Takefusa Kubo, both of whom are also out on loan this season, Hakimi is seen as the future of Real Madrid.

Those who doubt that Zidane can satisfy both Hakimi and Carvajal in the same squad should look at how he has used Marcelo and Mendy. The latter is widely seen as Zidane’s first choice at left back, with the Frenchman quickly settling in following his transfer from Lyon last summer, but Marcelo has still proved his worth over the course of the campaign.

“We’ll see after the season,” Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said when asked whether Hakimi, as well as Jadon Sancho, will still be at the club beyond the summer. “Of course, players will leave. We hope the players will stay, but it is possible that players will leave. You have already mentioned two [Hakimi and Sancho] that we don’t definitely know about. Of course, they could stay with us, which would be very good for me. But we’ll see what we’ll do, whether it’s in defence, midfield or attack.”

Squad depth is something Real Madrid have over Barcelona and the return of Hakimi to the Santiago Bernabeu this summer could give them another advantage over their fiercest rivals. The Moroccan still has some work to do in order to refine his game, particularly in the defensive sense, but he is a player with great potential and it appears destined that he will fulfil that potential in the Spanish capital.

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Will Achraf Hakimi replace Dani Carvajal at Real Madrid next season?

Going to the Bundesliga proved to be the making of Dani Carvajal. Indeed, the right back grew during his one season at Bayer Leverkusen, persuading Real Madrid to activate the buy-back clause they inserted in the Spaniard’s contract. Carvajal has been the club’s first choice right back ever since, earning himself a reputation as one of Europe’s very best.

Could history now be about to repeat itself? There is another Real Madrid youth product currently excelling in the Bundesliga as a right back. On current form, he is one of the best around and so it’s entirely possible that Carvajal could be replaced by someone who has followed the very precedent he set.

Indeed, Achraf Hakimi has been somewhat of a revelation for Borussia Dortmund this season, notching six goals and nine assists for the Bundesliga outfit. Rather sensationally, the Moroccan has scored four times in six Champions League appearances. And he’s done all this as a right back. It’s a remarkable record.

This is the second season of Hakimi’s two-year loan spell at the Westfalenstadion and the stint has certainly served him well. While the 21-year-old was an unpolished diamond in his first and only season to date at the Santiago Bernabeu, he has used the time in Germany to refine his game. As a defender and an attacker, he is accomplished far beyond his years.

Hakimi is the perfect modern full back. He is fast, mobile, energetic and has a final product, as illustrated by his statistics for the season so far. In the same mould of someone like Trent Alexander-Arnold or Dani Alves in years gone by, Hakimi is an entire right wing in one person. Full backs have never been as important in football as they are now and the Moroccan is one of the best there is at this moment in time. He is another victory for Real Madrid’s youth system.

It’s therefore reasonable to assume that he will already be in the thinking of Zinedine Zidane ahead of next season. Real Madrid have a number of bright young players out on loan, with Martin Odegaard excelling for Real Sociedad, but Hakimi might well be the best of the lot. He might be the one that slots immediately into Los Blancos’ starting lineup upon his return to the Spanish capital.

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James Rodriguez to lead Real Madrid summer exodus


James Rodriguez is set to leave La Liga this summer, with Real Madrid happy for the Colombian international to move on after an unfulfilled five years at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Rodriguez, 27, signed for Los Blancos ahead of the 2014-15 campaign, on the back of an outstanding performance at the World Cup two months before, however his face never seemed to fit at the club particularly under previous boss Zinedine Zidane.

Despite the last two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich, he does not appear to be guaranteed a continued role in Bavaria either.

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Real Madrid given La Liga head start in 2019


Real Madrid will have a chance to lay down a 2019 marker to their La Liga rivals on Thursday night, before any other top four side has kicked a ball in 2019.

Santiago Solari’s side head to Villarreal for their first game of the calendar year, with a home game against Real Sociedad on Sunday.

The reason being that due Real’s involvement in the FIFA Club World Cup, they have played a fixture less than their rivals this season.

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Defensive issues for Solari ahead of Valencia test


Santiago Solari knew that life as Real Madrid manager would not be an easy ride, but following his first defeat last weekend, he now faces a huge La Liga clash against Valencia on Saturday.

The defending European champions were defeated 3-1 away at Eibar in La Liga Game Week 13, ending Solari’s honeymoon period of four unbeaten games in all competitions since taking over from Zinedine Zidane.

The Argentinian welcomed back first team stars Raphael Varane and Marcelo to his defence, following injury, but they were unable to keep Eibar out at the Estadio Municipal de Ipurua.

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Benzema enjoying life under Solari


The confirmation of Santiago Solari as the permanent boss of Real Madrid has dominated La Liga news in the last two weeks.

Solari has impressed in the brief time he’s been in charge, winning four out of four games in all competitions, stabilising the club following a tumultuous start to the season, under former boss Julen Lopetegui.

The biggest story of his time at the helm has been the form of Karim Benzema, who has rediscovered his goal scoring touch.

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Solari set for Real Madrid managerial audition


Santiago Solari has reportedly been given the chance to prove himself as the right man to lead Real Madrid out of their La Liga mess over the next few weeks.

Media reports in Spain claim that the former Argentina international has been given four matches to demonstrate his suitability for the role, by club president Florentino Perez.

Solari, who won the Champions League and and two La Liga titles as a player with Real Madrid, was announced as interim manager on Monday, following the sacking of Julen Lopetegui.

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Spain may have turned a corner under Enrique

spainscoreSpain began their UEFA Nations League campaign with an impressive 2-1 win against Gareth Southgate’s England at Wembley, indicating they may have just turned a corner since their turbulent World Cup campaign. The appointment of Luis Enrique as Julen Lopetegui’s permanent replacement was seen by many as a positive move towards getting the Spaniards back to their best after a disappointing campaign in Russia this summer. Lopetegui was sacked just days before Spain’s first game in the tournament and while stand-in Fernando Hierro deserves credit for leading the nation to the tournament in such difficult circumstances he did not seem to be the right man for the job, hence Enrique’s appointment.

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Real Madrid at full power ahead of Liverpool showdown



Real Madrid are back to full strength as they prepare for Saturday’s Champions League final against Liverpool.

Zinedine Zidane has seen all of his squad’s injury issues clear up in time for their clash with Jurgen Klopp’s side.

The primary injury absentee in recent weeks has been talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, who had missed a fortnight of action with an ankle injury.

The Portuguese international was withdrawn at half time during Real’s bad tempered 2-2 draw against Barcelona, and missed the La Liga clashes with Sevilla and Celta Vigo.

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