Born in Mallorca to a Spanish father and Dutch mother, young 21-year-old Marco Asensio, named after Dutch legend Marco Van Basten, seems to be destined for greatness. By the time he was eight, his mother had already declared he would play for Real Madrid.
Asensio’s mother died of cancer in 2011 when he was 15-years-old and each goal he scores is dedicated to his late mother. The youngster took no time in introducing himself to the Madrid faithful — a goal on his competitive debut for Real Madrid, his La Liga debut, his Champions League debut, and his Copa Del Rey debut. Each goal dedicated to his mother, the woman who saw his talent before anyone else.
The Spanish gem has earned his way to Real Madrid through his performances with Real Mallorca, Espanyol, and throughout the Spanish youth levels. Making his debut for Mallorca at just 16-years-old, he went on to make 51 appearances for the club primarily playing as a center attacking midfielder. He has played for Spain at all the junior levels and has two caps as a full international for Spain. He was a crucial cog in the Spanish U-19 team that won the European Championships in 2015. Asensio was named the best player of the tournament and earned the coveted Golden Player of the tournament. In all eight of Spain’s matches, he was given total freedom to express himself. Asensio responded to that freedom with five goals in the tournament, two of which came in the semi-final match against France. His assist, a gorgeous defense-splitting pass against Russia in the final helped push Spain to glory. After the tournament he eventually made the loan move from Real Madrid to Espanyol. He played 34 games in his first season in the top flight, racking up four goals and 10 assists. More than his statistics, were the quality he showed, and his displays did not go unnoticed by Los Blancos as he formed a part of the squad this season.
Asensio has had to succumb to a bit-part role this year, but each of his performances have built on the last. His development has not seemed to be hindered from the limited action. Each time he steps onto the field he plays with the confidence of a player 10 years his senior, playing week in and week out. His most recent performances against Elche and Eibar have oozed class. He put in a MOTM performance at the Butarque -- running the show, dictating the tempo, coming deep to connect and build out, and burning Mantovani with ease. His change of speed may very well be his most underrated quality. His run and goal against Sevilla was reminiscent of Gareth Bale’s torching run against Marc Barta in the 2014 Copa Del Rey final. Asensio has all the tools to be an all-time great for Real Madrid. The deftness of his touch and his silky smooth moves all with that golden left foot, has made Zidane draw comparisons to Messi.
James and Isco both may seek moves away from the club this summer, pushing Asensio further up the depth chart. Cristiano Ronaldo, despite his best efforts to beat father time, will eventually move on from the club. In five years time Marco Asensio will be 26, hitting his peak years, and it will be time to pass the baton down and if his potential is realized and unleashed while at Madrid, he could be a player to build the attack around. His technical and creative brilliance as well as his deceptive change of speed may be the catalyst of the future Madrid attack. A player of Marco’s potential needs to be higher in the depth chart and a player of his quality should be first off the bench for the likes of Bale and Ronaldo, even before a player like Lucas Vazquez. It is not a criticism of Lucas Vazquez, but rather a recognition of Asensio’s quality. The squad will see departures this summer, Asensio cannot and should not be accepting of another bit-part role next season. Bigger challenges and a bigger role awaits Asensio and he knows Zidane trusts him.
Asensio has trust in Zidane and the club, and now it is time for the club to repay that faith and trust in the youngster next season or risk losing one of the brightest and best talents the game has to offer. His cameo appearance against Bayern Munich was evidence again to the confidence and composure the 21-year-old exudes. His inch perfect cross for Cristiano Ronaldo, gave Madrid the winning goal and repaid the faith shown in him by Zidane. His mother knew he was destined for Real Madrid, even at eight-years-old, and now the club must give this special talent the platform to flourish.