Real Madrid: Could Brahim Diaz replace Lucas Vazquez next season?

Brahim Diaz of Real Madrid (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Brahim Diaz of Real Madrid (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

This season might be Lucas Vazquez‘s last season at Real Madrid, as his contract is set to expire on June 30th. He is currently linked to few European clubs, with Bayern Munich being the latest club to be linked with the 29-year-old Spaniard. This would leave an empty slot in Real Madrid’s attacking unit, and reportedly Brahim Diaz is one of the names touted to be Lucas’ replacement from next season.

Brahim Diaz is currently on loan at AC Milan, and it is fair to say that he has been our second best loanee so far in this season, after Borja Mayoral. He has 5 goals and 3 assists for Milan in all competitions, with 2 goals and 2 assists for the Spanish U-21 side. Milan has been impressed by his performances, and there have always been reports of Milan looking to sign him or extend his loan deal, throughout the season. His loan deal expires this summer and he will have to return to Madrid in the summer. But will he leave Madrid again or continue at Real Madrid?

Brahim’s Real Madrid career has been a strange one so far. He was bought by the club for a fee of 17 million euros when Santiago Solari was in charge. But the Argentine manager never saw him as a starter and he didn’t give the former Manchester City player a lot of minutes. It wasn’t until Zidane’s arrival that Brahim got minutes, and the Spaniard managed to impress the Frenchman in that limited time. He was touted to be one of the key players for the 2019/20 season.

There were reports of Brahim impressing Zidane a lot in the pre-season, but regular injuries curtailed his chances. He was fit again from September, but he never got any significant minutes, apart from Copa Del Rey games. It was really strange and harsh that a talented player like Brahim didn’t get a single minute in LaLiga or UEFA Champions League. He got just 206 minutes to play and eventually he had to leave on loan in 2020, as he had far too little experience for his age.

Brahim Diaz is a different player from Lucas Vazquez

On paper, Brahim might look like a good replacement for Lucas Vazquez, as he has the ability to play well on both the flanks. Though Brahim isn’t as versatile as Lucas to play as a right-back at the same time, he is highly skillful to operate as a right-winger. But in practicality, Brahim might not be the like-to-like replacement for Lucas Vazquez.

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Before I go deep into the topic, let me share something. Personally, I’m a great fan of Brahim and I see him as the most talented youngster in our ranks. I would be very excited to see Brahim return to his parent club, and he is someone who wants to succeed at the biggest stage. But I wouldn’t want to see him as Lucas Vazquez’s replacement in Zinedine Zidane’s system.

Brahim can play on both the wings, but you can see the best of him as a number ten in a 4-2-3-1. He has all the technical attributes required to make him a great playmaker, and he has the ability to dribble past opponents with some neat footwork, before unleashing a killer pass that would be masked until the moment of release. He’s an exciting player, but he plays in a role where Real Madrid have another highly-hyped player in Martin Odegaard.

He can still adjust to Zidane’s 4-3-3 and play as a  right-winger, and he can still do well in offence. His work-rate is decent, but from whatever I have seen, he isn’t a workhorse like Lucas Vazquez. Zidane expects his wingers to be industrious, but Brahim might not be that industrious to keep running for 90 minutes. His pressing is fine though, and he often initiates the press on his own.

Brahim can play a role for Real Madrid similar to a Barcelona youngster

Another disadvantage is Brahim’s physicality. At 1.71 meters tall, Brahim Diaz is not only shorter than an average football player, but he is also a bit weak. That weakness of his has always been exploited by the tall and strong defenders of the Serie A, as they easily overpower him to win the ball in the final third. It was a good decision for him to go to Italy, as it did expose his main weakness, and made him work more on that weakness. He did improve well, but for a player who looks to dribble through tight halfspaces, he needs to work harder in the gym.

These are the cons of Brahim as a right-winger, and precisely as a Lucas Vazquez replacement. But these weaknesses aren’t enough for Real Madrid to stop counting on him, as he can offer something different than what Lucas Vazquez can offer.

People often compare Brahim’s gameplay to David Silva, and the dribbling style, physique, passing style, and creativity indeed look similar. These attributes can actually bring the best out of Brahim, as he can be used as a creative midfielder in a 4-3-3. Of course, it would require some minor adjustments from Zidane and a greater work rate from Brahim, but there is a high possibility of that ploy being successful.

Brahim can do what Pedri is doing for FC Barcelona and Spain, as an attack-minded central midfielder. That might be a new role for Brahim, but at the end of the day, it is his abilities and output which can judge Brahim in a midfield role. It would be great to see him play like how David Silva has played all these years.

Another alternative is to use Brahim as a playmaking right-winger, similar to James Rodriguez’s role at Everton, given his world-class creative abilities and especially his final ball. He has the ability to provide quality line-breaking through balls and pick up players with accurate passes manufactured from both his feet.

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So the conclusion is, Brahim Diaz isn’t a perfect replacement for Lucas Vazquez. But he can be a different kind of right-winger whose primary job is to create chances for his forwards, or as an attack-minded central midfielder in an attacking system. It would be great if Real Madrid get him back from loan, but Real Madrid can see the best of Brahim Diaz only if he is used to his strengths.