“I work hard every day to earn more minutes, but I am aware of where I am. I am at the best club in the world and I am happy at Real Madrid.”
Certainly not the words the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea would have wanted to hear from the mouth of Marco Asensio, but the above coupled with the news Real Madrid look set to end their interest in Eden Hazard in a show of faith to Asensio implies that the Spanish superstar is set to remain the crown jewel of Real’s future.
With concerns surrounding Asensio’s future now being put to rest, now is the time for Real Madrid to really put their money where their mouth is and build their future around this burgeoning talent. Here’s the thing though – Marco Asensio has not had a good 2017-2018 season. The vultures may circle because of that statement, but it’s true.
Expected to kick on after a fine end to last season back on matchday two, the world appeared to be at the feet of Asensio as he displayed the magic of his left foot with two beauties against Valencia. This was shortly after his performances in the Super Cup against Barcelona, but to say the season hasn’t progressed as expected wouldn’t be unfair.
Raw data shows that, in 14 appearances (nine starts) this season, Asensio has contributed four goals and three assists to a Madrid team that has struggled, as expected, to find the back of the net. While these numbers aren’t alarming, more would have been expected. Asensio has not set La Liga alight and that is not debatable. Why he hasn’t, however, is debatable. Is this a case of a player who is on the verge of 22 years old simply going through an excusable rough patch. Or is there more than meets the eye?
An argument can be made that the tactical make-ups of Real Madrid simply have not been to the benefit of the likes of Asensio. One could make the argument that this season Zinedine Zidane doesn’t know how best to lay out his teams. The overarching theme is, of course, to ‘Get Cristiano in positions to score’, but the manner in which they have approached doing this has varied. We’ve seen them play 4-4-2, 4-3-1-2, and 4-3-3. What this has led to is the likes of Asensio being played all over to accommodate Ronaldo. Across his nine starts in La Liga Asensio has played:
- Wide in a 4-4-2
- Wide in a 4-3-3
- Up top in a 4-3-1-2
- And in Attacking Mid in a 4-3-1-2
In short, almost every time he enters the pitch his role changes. Thus it should come as no surprise that the youngster has been unable to build up a strong run of good performances.
At this point, Zidane needs to come to terms with the facts that the fabled B.B.C partnership is on its last days. Karim Benzema and Ronaldo are operating on fumes and Bale’s engine just isn’t reliable. Whether it’s a wide forward or attacking midfield role, Zidane needs to give Asensio a position in the first 11 to make his OWN. The talent is undeniable and it should be trusted.