Federico Valverde: Real Madrid & Uruguay youngster
Federico Valverde is a Uruguayan professional footballer who plays for Spanish club Real Madrid and the Uruguay national team as a central midfielder. He began his youth and professional career with Uruguayan and Montevideo giants Peñarol. His professional debut for Peñarol came against Cerro on 16th August 2015. He went on to make 13 appearances for Peñarol in all competitions.
Valverde signed for Real Madrid on 22nd July 2016 and was sent to the Castilla team where he spent the entire season. He made his Castilla debut against Real Union in a 0-1 away loss. That season, he appeared 36 times for Castilla in the Segunda Division and the UEFA Youth League. For the 2017-18 season, Valverde was sent out on loan to Galician team Deportivo de La Coruña where he made 25 appearances of which 24 were in LaLiga. Deportivo suffered relegation from the top flight as they finished 18th in the league. After returning from loan, Valverde was assigned to the first team at Real Madrid for the 2018-19 season. He played 25 matches across all competitions though he played only just over 1100 minutes in those 25 games.
The 2019-20 season would see Valverde’s game time jump up from 1100 minutes in the previous campaign to 2700 minutes across all competitions. He made 44 appearances across LaLiga, Copa del Rey, Supercopa and the Champions League. His importance to Real Madrid’s midfield grew last season and will continue to grow as Luka Modric is slowly being phased out due to his age. In the Supercopa final against city rivals Atletico Madrid, Valverde committed a professional foul on Alvaro Morata in the 2nd half of extra time denying a clear goalscoring opportunity for Los Colchoneros thereby receiving his marching orders. However, were it not for the tackle, Los Blancos may have lost the match. Real went on to win the match in the penalty shootout. In the post-match press conference, Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone praised Valverde and called it “the most important play of the game”. Later that evening, Valverde apologized Morata for his actions.
Valverde made his senior international debut and scored his first international goal for Uruguay against Paraguay in a 2018 World Cup qualification match against Paraguay. Since then, he has played 22 games for La Celeste.
Valverde is a box-to-box midfielder who can cover every blade of grass for 90 minutes. When replacing Modric in the starting line-up, he sits ahead of Casemiro and beside Toni Kroos in a midfield 3. His dynamic movement brings energy to the midfield now that Modric is 35 and has weary legs. Since he does not have as much defensive responsibilities as Casemiro or Kroos, he has more freedom to bomb forward and roam in the attacking third. Though he is best suited for a midfield three, he can also play in a double pivot thus offering versatility to the Real Madrid squad. Defensively, Valverde has no trouble assisting the defence as he boasts excellent work rate engaging in more than 5 defensive duels per game with almost 60% success rate. In fact, due to the emergence of Valverde at Los Merengues, the Real Madrid faithful do not miss somebody like Paul Pogba. In fact, Valverde suits Real’s system more than Pogba as the Frenchman is more one-dimensional compared to the Uruguayan.
Valverde is one of the bright youngsters at Real Madrid as they look to dominate Spanish football for the next decade due to having a much younger squad than Barcelona. They will also look to bring back the UCL trophy to the Bernabeu in which Valverde will play a crucial role. No doubt about it.