Salutations, and welcome to my latest project for Managing Madrid! During this series, we will be profiling the best young talent that Real Madrid has to offer. I will discuss their first team chances, and put together a resume to help them make their case. I felt that it was fitting to start with the young man on many South American and Madrid fan’s lips recently: Fede Valverde. In recent weeks, the midfielder has made his senior International and La Liga debuts, impressing in both. I didn’t hold myself as worthy to describe the maestro as a player, so I got him to put it in his own words exclusively for this article:
“I am a player who likes to always be in touch with the ball, and to always move forward.” - Fede Valverde
Who is Fede Valverde?
Federico Santiago Valverde Dipetta was born in Uruguay’s capital city, Montevideo, on Wednesday the 22nd of July, 1998. Fede took an interest in football at an early stage, and was picked up by local giants Atlético Peñarol, at just 10 years old. His first International call-up came at 14, for the Uruguay under-15’s side.
Two years later, he was stepping out onto the Estadio Campeón del Siglo pitch to make his senior Peñarol debut at 16, against Cerro. After starring for his club and country, and fending away offers from some huge European clubs, he agreed to transfer to Real Madrid when he turned 18. Following Castilla religiously is one of my duties, and I’ve gained some recognition online for my troubles. The majority of the Castilla players I grow fond of do not necessarily become my personal favourite players. However, I can confidently say that Fede Valverde is one of my favourite footballers. This is not only because he is such a good player, but also because he is such a humble person. I’m very lucky to be in a position where I often find myself in contact with these players from time to time, and the Uruguayan is without a doubt the nicest professional footballer I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with. This is a rare trait for a player of such high ability, and having the natural ability to keep your feet on the ground will be a huge asset in any first team hopes.
Let’s have a look at his resume so far:
- Prominent figure in the Uruguay national youth teams. Scored at every level he has played. Scored seven goals in nine games during the 2015 South American Under-17 Championships. Awarded the ‘Silver Ball’ at the 2017 Under-20’s world cup for being the second-best player at the entire tournament (Uruguay crashed out at the semi-finals).
- Debuts with boyhood club Peñarol at age 16. Wins his first League title in the same season, and agrees to join Real Madrid the following year after training with Arsenal.
- Arrives in Madrid, and joins up with the Castilla squad. After a slow start, goes on to become one of the team’s most important players. Ranked the second best player that season.
- Joins La Liga side Deportivo de La Coruña, where he has already made a case for a starting spot with his good performances. Makes his league debut. Scored from inside his own half during pre-season.
- Scored the winning goal on his senior International debut with Uruguay, in the big fixture against Paraguay. He is now a regular for his country, alongside the likes of Luis Suárez, Edison Cavani and Diego Godín.
What’s his playing style?
Having watched Fede very closely for the entirety of last season, I got a great chance to become familiar with his playing style. Federico is a player that will never shy away from the ball, even if he isn’t having a particularly good game. The early stages of his Uruguay debut were filled with nerves, and numerous passes were misplayed. However, he refused to back down, and ended up carving out a really good performance, which was all his own doing. He often drops deep to pick up the ball from the defenders, so he can orchestrate attacks going forward. He’s a strong runner with the ball, and is always on the lookout for pockets of space in the opposition’s half that he can drive into. He has a sound touch, and good ability to assist himself during pressured situations in tight areas. The Uruguayan’s positioning is one of his strongest attributes, as he seems to always find himself in the right place at the right time.
Defensively, he is very switched on, to the point where many people prefer him operating in a more defensive role. I personally prefer him as a central midfielder, where he can put in a big shift defensively, but also control the game with his passing range, and contribute going forward. His passing -- although not quite as refined as current first team players Toni Kroos or Marcos Llorente -– is still of a very high standard. He’s a player that always keeps the ball moving, and during the 16/17 season, countless Castilla attacks came through him. Of course, none of the attributes mentioned would count for much if his decision-making was poor. Luckily for Madrid fans, that isn’t the case. Decision making is perhaps Federico’s specialty. He rarely plays the wrong pass, and possesses a footballing intellect far beyond his tender age.
Last, but certainly not least, is his shooting. From long distance, he becomes a massive danger to opponents. Many of his goals come from outside of the area, but he is just as ruthless from close range. The wonder kid really is an all rounded talent, and he is one of the only players that you will see actually progress under Santiago Solari’s scandalous reign at Castilla. It is rare to see a player that is in full control of his own performance, and that has the confidence to keep demanding the ball and imposing himself on the game, especially at such a young age.
What are his first team chances?
His CV certainly checks out. A place in the first team for a young player at the club requires nothing more than huge strides forward in development. The progress that Fede has seen in the last two years has surely put him towards the front of the ever-growing queue. This season is significant for the youngster, and if he has a successful campaign at the Riazor, then it is highly likely he will be given a chance in the first team. Of course, luck will play a large factor. Players will have to move on from the current first team roster in order to open up a space, Madrid will then have to resist temptation to bring in a superstar in that position. Valverde will also have to watch his back as he has plenty of competition in the same boat eyeing up that potential opening. Nevertheless, in Fede Valverde, Real Madrid have a colossal talent, and I am certain that we will see him donning the famous white jersey in the near future.
What did you think of this article, and the planned project? Who would you like to see profiled next? Let me know in the comments section below!