Real Madrid: Fede Valverde is on the path to greatness

Federico Valverde of Real Madrid (Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Federico Valverde of Real Madrid (Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images) /

Real Madrid fans know it, and the rest of the world will soon figure it out. Fede Valverde is on the path to greatness at the Bernabeu.

Although Real Madrid received key contributions from several young players in 2019-2020, including left back Ferland Mendy and left winger Vinicius Junior, nobody had a bigger breakout season at the Santiago Bernabeu than center midfielder Fede Valverde.

Once one of the top prospects in the world, the Uruguayan was flying under the radar before the 2019-2020 season began. But by the time he earned Man of the Match honors against FC Barcelona in the second-to-last game of the league campaign before the season’s postponement, every fan of Spanish football has come to know Valverde as a key player for Real.

Valverde’s impact when beyond the statistics. Whenever he was in the lineup, Real Madrid were demonstrably better, and they looked lost without him. At 21, Valverde’s ability to rise to the occasion in big games was uncanny, and Madridistas won’t soon forget his game-saving, red-card tackle on Alvaro Morata in the club’s eventual Spanish Supercup Final win over crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid.

He put in multiple Man of the Match performances against Barcelona and Atleti in 2019-2020, showing a zeal in derbies that immediately endeared him to the fans. Valverde was constantly making ball recoveries and tackles in the final third, quickly creating dangerous attacking situations. And with his incredible pace and raw athleticism, Fede would help transition counterattacks from deeper areas, eating up space with his long strides.

On the ball, Valverde has technical quality and can show it when aiming from beyond the box, having scored twice from range last season. But because he’s so good at everything and runs so much in midfield, his best attributes don’t often show up on the stat sheet.

Expect for one. According to, only countryman Luis Suarez of Barcelona had a better +/- (meaning goal differential when on the pitch vs. not on the pitch) in La Liga last season. And the difference there likely stems from the fact that Barcelona didn’t have any other strikers. A more appropriate stat, xG +/-, has Fede ranked first in the league with Sergio Busquets in second.

It’s funny. Everyone wants to compare Fede Valverde to Frenkie de Jong, yet this metric shows we may need to compare his 2019-2020 to the legendary Busquests’. That’s not to say Valverde is already on Busquests’ level, but it does show that he has the potential to be there, having had this sort of influence on the team at just 21.

Next. Grading the forwards from the 2019-2020 season. dark

Valverde is clearly on the road to being one of the best box-to-box midfielders in world football. His technical quality, athleticism, motor, and toughness jump off the page, and his mentality in big games only seals his importance to Real Madrid. Look for him to have an even better 2020-2021 season with an even more crucial role in Zinedine Zidane‘s squad.