Carlo Ancelotti has a soft spot for attacking players. You could even call him the GOAT at working with attackers, as current Real Madrid superstars Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr. can attest after posting career-best seasons under Carletto. Marco Asensio and Rodrygo Goes also profited from the Italian’s management in 2021/22.
In the past, the No. 10 position was coveted by Carlo. Football has changed since – even in the space of just a few short years – but we can never forget the affinity he had for James Rodriguez, who had a stunning 13 goals and 13 assists with 2.7 key passes per game in his first season at Real Madrid under Carlo.
Last season, Ancelotti couldn’t really use a 10. He experimented with one and tried to use Eden Hazard in a free role. Hazard put up some great dribbling and key pass statistics, and Marco Asensio had a hat-trick against former club Mallorca. So there were positives, but, as a whole, the formation and setup just could not handle a creative player. Too much was sacrificed structurally and defensively.
But with Aurelien Tchouameni joining Real Madrid, Ancelotti may see an opening to use the 10 again, especially if the Merengues decide to sign a modern-day playmaker in 2023. In Christopher Nkunku, Rayan Cherki, Florian Wirtz, Jude Bellingham, Dominik Szoboszlai, and maybe even Jamal Musiala, there are playmaking possibilities.
Aurelien Tchouameni can help Real Madrid use a 10 in front of a double-pivot
So how does Tchouameni make this possible? Tchouameni is capable of being a 6 or an 8, and it is his fit in the former role that made Real Madrid spend 100 million euros on him. They knew the Frenchman is the only real potential long-term replacement for Casemiro in the defensive midfield. They have chosen wisely.
However, because Tchouameni is so good at progressing the ball and has additional attacking upside, he may be at his best in a flexible double-pivot with Eduardo Camavinga in the long-term and either Toni Kroos or Luka Modric in the short-term.
Because Real Madrid could make greater use of a double-pivot with Tchouameni in the side, that gives them the freedom to utilize the third midfielder in the 4-3-3 formation in a more attacking, No. 10 role. Something akin to what we have seen from Bayern Munich in recent years, for example.
It’s not a sure-fire thing and it is not something to do against every team. However, it could work wonders and help Eden Hazard, for example, get minutes in a position where he can contribute more meaningfully, given the left wing should belong to Vinicius Jr. (and also Rodrygo Goes when possible, as he has more to offer to Madrid in the long run).
Ancelotti loves the 10. Most football romantics do, and Real Madrid fans are definitely among them. Look at how much we still love Hazard despite the struggles.
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So watch Hazard and the other possible 10’s in the coming season, as Ancelotti sees what he can do with his newest star midfielder, Tchouameni. Beyond 2022/23, a successful implementation of a 10 could help push Real to make one more big splash in a versatile attacking talent who can play the 10 and other positions, too. You know, someone like Nkunku or Bellingham, who are both very much on the Real Madrid transfer radar.