You could see it in his face. He knew. With pre-season winding down and the start of the new season coming into sight, Marco Asensio suffered a knee injury in a Stateside friendly against Arsenal. With his head in his hands on a stretcher, crying, it was clear that the 23-year-old would be out for some time.
Indeed, Asensio has missed the entire season to date and is expected to remain out for some time yet. Real Madrid have coped in his absence, with Rodrygo emerging as something of a superstar. Zinedine Zidane has managed to take his team to the peak of the Spanish Liga table where Real Madrid trail Barcelona only on goal difference.
And yet the return of Asensio will significantly strengthen Real Madrid. While the 23-year-old has frequently struggled for form and consistency over his time at the club, he remains a difference-maker. At present, Real Madrid have grown too reliant on Karim Benzema for a spark in the final third of the pitch. Asensio would take some of that burden.
Of course, with Rodrygo now considered a first team figure and Eden Hazard joining from Chelsea in the summer Asensio will still have to work to regain his place in Zidane’s side, but in terms of natural talent the 23-year-old is still one of the very best on the books at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Reports in the Spanish press this week claim Asensio is back on the training pitch and working with a ball at his feet having completed a programme of gym work over the winter break. The Spanish international is still doing his rehabilitation on his own, although Hazard joined Asensio in some of his work as he continues his own recovery from injury. The signs are positive for both players after something of a dark period. It might not be long before Asensio is training with his teammates again.
There is a growing sense that Asensio could in fact return to first team action before the end of the season, although Zidane should be wary of rushing back a player who has spent the last seven months out of action with a serious injury. Asensio’s work between now and the end of the season should be about preparing him for the 2020/21 campaign. That’s when he could make a real impact for Real Madrid again.
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