Federico Valverde lining up a shot with either of his feet just outside the box is one of the most terrifying sights in football right now. He is a workhorse and versatile squad player who runs until his lungs hurt, and has now become an undisputed starter for the world's biggest football club.
Valverde’s quality was never in question but the level at which he is operating now was not foreseen. His bursting into the scene of absolute elites of world football makes us look at things retrospectively, which were always there and have fallen into their place in a way that cannot be unseen now.
South American roots
Real Madrid’s love story with South American players is not unknown. The most decorated player in the history of Real Madrid, former captain Marcelo, hailed from Brazil. The man who personified Real Madrid’s excellence, Alfredo Di Stefano, had his roots in Argentina. Fede Valverde comes from the same continent. The Uruguayan midfielder himself belongs to a country rich in football heritage and he is now arguably the best player of his country’s next generation.
Fede Valverde moved to the Real Madrid Academy at the age of 16 from Penarol. Under Santiago Solari, he commenced his journey at Real Madrid Castilla. Valverde would sometimes get called to the first team to train under Zidane with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos, and Luka Modric during the 2016-17 season. Little did we know, fast forwarding to five years later, he would be one of the most essential players for the reigning European Champions.
Valverde’s journey from Castilla to the first team is reminiscent of similar successful graduates such as Iker Casillas and Raul Gonzalez. Fede is still young, he has many years in front of him to create a legacy like the ones Casillas and Raul had created.
Big game player
Be it the tactical foul on Alvaro Morata in the Spanish Supercopa final of 2020, the assist in the Champions League final of 2022, his numerous man-of-the-match performances in El Clasicos, or his goal vs Atletico Madrid in the recent derby: You cannot keep Fede Valverde away from a big moment in a big game. When he played as an emergency right-back for the first time for Zinedine Zidane in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2021 vs Liverpool, he played as if he was right back all along. This is a big player, born to shine in big games.
Adoration of the Madrid faithful
Fede Valverde is absolutely adored by Real Madrid’s fans, every manager he played under, and most importantly, his teammates. Toni Kroos recently said publicly on Twitter that he considers Valverde as a top-three midfielder in the world. Valverde deflected the praise the next day in an interview with Real Madrid TV, saying he is only eager to learn from Kroos. This is a monumental footballer with incredible ability but his humility shines through everything else.
With Fede Valverde, the future is now and the future is bright.