The first coach’s press conference of the 2021/22 season took place on Friday, with Carlo Ancelotti looking ahead to Saturday’s match away at Alavés and to the season in general. He started off by saying: “We’ve had a good attitude in pre-season. We’ve worked hard and the players are committted. I think we’re ready to start the competition. All competitions are always important for Real Madrid. We’ll do all we can to win LaLiga, which is always very competitive. If players give 100 percent of their quality, I’m convinced that we can compete against anyone.”
A question about Kylian Mbappé led the new coach to talk about the current squad. He gave a brief summary of how he thinks the squad is, stating: “I don’t like to speak about players who aren’t here. I like to talk about players who are here and I really like this squad, with a mix of veterans and youngsters. There are really interesting youngsters like Miguel Gutiérrez, Blanco, Marvin, Sergio Arribas and Chust. In the future and in the present they can be important. Then, Luka Modrić has returned with extaordinary enthusiasm. Casemiro has improved a lot since I was last here. Kroos has a lot of motivation, even if he has had an issue. There’s Benzema too. Bale is a great player and everyone knows that, even if it hasn’t gone too well for him recently. If he plays well on the pitch then he’ll play. If not, someone else will play. There are players here who I love, as a coach and as a football fan. There is a lot of competition here, which is good. It makes you better.”
Another Mbappé question was brought up again later in the press conference and, then, Ancelotti responded by saying “The president and I speak about everything”. He also gave a classic Ancelotti ‘look’, so read into that what you will.
What Ancelotti had to say about Ødegaard
One of the big topics of the day was the future of Martin Ødegaard, who has been linked with a return to Arsenal. The fact that the Norwegian hasn’t been registered for LaLiga action sparked fresh reports and Ancelotti was asked about this.
The coach said: “With Ødegaard, just like with Vallejo, it’s a technical circumstance of the moment [that he hasn’t been registered yet]. We haven’t been able to register all of the players right now. That could change tomorrow. September 2nd is the deadline for registering players. Ødegaard had done well in pre-season. He knows we have eight midfielders and there is competition, but he hasn’t definitively been ruled out. We picked two returnees to register for now and I picked Bale and Jović . It’s early.”
What else did Ancelotti say in his press conference?
Another individual singled out was Eden Hazard and the Italian revealed that he is looking sharp. He said: “Hazard started with individual work and I think he’s in good condition. I’m convinced he’ll be back to his best. He’s ready. We have had quite an intense pre-season and the players have done well, combining physical work with technical and tactical work.”
On the team’s style, Ancelotti spoke of becoming more attack-minded when he stated: “Only Benzema scored a lot of goals last season. We’re working to play a more attacking football, collectively and individually. We want Vinícius, Rodrygo and Jović and the midfielders to give us more on the goalscoring front.”
On Lionel Messi’s departure from Barcelona, the coach reflected: “It surprised me a little, yes. But I’ve been in football for 42 years, so I’m not surprised that players change shirts. I have a lot of respect for the decision of Barcelona and Messi. Whether Barcelona have Messi or not, it doesn’t change for us. We have to try to beat them.”
Finally, he revealed that Marcelo has had a small physical problem, putting his participation against Alavés in doubt.