Real Madrid right winger Marco Asensio was once one of the most promising young players in Europe. More importantly than that, the current No. 11 scored some very important goals for the Merengues during the three-peat.
Even more recently, Asensio was a key player in the 2019/20 LaLiga-winning season, returning that summer from an ACL tear to score with his first touch against Valencia. He then provided some more positive moments.
This season, too, Asensio scored 10 goals, including some matchwinners. He was something of a super-sub for Real Madrid when he came off the bench.
But the harsh reality is that Real would not have won the Champions League if they continued to start the 26-year-old. He is a great shooter and can score goals, but, as the stats show with zero assists, he does basically nothing else. Asensio is an average playmaker at best, his athleticism has been sapped after the injury, his dribbling skills are minimal for a Madrid winger, and his defensive work rate is abysmal.
Real Madrid improved when they benched Asensio in the Champions League
A key turn-around in the Real Madrid season occurred when Carlo Ancelotti finally started Fede Valverde over him against PSG in the Champions League and then demoted him further behind Rodrygo Goes, who had three crucial goals in two decisive second legs in the Champions League quarterfinals and semifinals.
In an interview with El Larguero, Marco Asensio provided verbal examples backing what we saw on the pitch. He is not a bad player, but he is not a player for Real Madrid:
"“I also want to grow in everything and have continuity throughout the year, not 3 or 4 months. You have to respect the coach’s decisions and be prepared when he gives you the opportunity. I’m proud of what I’ve done, it’s been my best goalscoring season. I’ve given the best I could in the minutes I’ve had.”“There is a lot of competition in Madrid, the coach decides and that is what you have to abide by. But in a season for a player, continuity and trust are very important so that everything comes out much easier. When a player has 15 minutes and has to score, he wears out a lot, especially mentally. I’m not saying he hasn’t trusted, he has trusted me. But it is important to everyone.”"
These quotes are not unreasonable, and, on the surface, they may even seem positive. However, it is important to never take quotes at face value and to really dig into what he is saying.
Marco Asensio did not make the most of his opportunities
Asensio made 19 starts in LaLiga for Real Madrid this season. He was 12th on the team in total minutes played, getting more action than Rodrygo Goes and Eduardo Camavinga. Asensio had as many starts as Fede.
But he did not make the most of his opportunities. He did not show that he had the all-around play to be a Real Madrid starter, and the results in the Champions League speak volumes. This team was better without him on the pitch. So he had the continuity and the trust. He was just outplayed by younger, hungrier, and better players. But at no point in the quotes, does he mention Fede or Rodrygo or give them any credit. Unlike the other veteran players on the team, he rarely gives the youngsters credit.
Now let’s get into another area that is even more of a problem. He complained about getting 15 minutes and wearing out mentally, wanting continuity throughout the year.
Guess what? You have to earn continuity. He is basically saying he wants to start every single game without question and without earning it. That’s really what he is saying. He is saying that he does not want the challenge of proving himself off the bench, which, by the way, Camavinga, Rodrygo, Fede, Dani Ceballos, Vini earlier, and even literal Premier League legend Eden Hazard have no problem with. Asensio is the ONLY player who says stuff like this.
It is an attitude Real Madrid do not accept. Other clubs will, and Asensio should go play for them. He will do well there. But at Madrid, you only get 3-4 months if you yo-yo performances from “decent” to “anonymous”. Asensio’s 3-4 months were too much, if you ask most Madridistas.
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These quotes should seal his fate. He is done in Madrid. This club is not a good fit for him, no matter how much he tries to tell you otherwise. If you really peel back the meaning of what he is saying, he is the opposite of Fede, Rodrygo, and the kind of players Real should value.