Why Marco Asensio needs to leave Real Madrid to be world-class

Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Marco Asensio (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images) /

As Real Madrid take stock of their squad in the summer 2022 transfer window and discuss departures, one man taking center stage is right winger Marco Asensio. Though really, if we are being honest, we should be referring to him as an attacking midfielder, because Real’s scheme as miscast Asensio in this role.

Before the season, I explained in detail why Asensio struggles on the wing. It really is not his fault. Asensio is not a winger. He is an attacking midfielder or inverted playmaker. And although he scored 10 goals under Carlo Ancelotti and had some real positives as a goal-scorer, Asensio was even more exposed under Carletto as a winger.

Ancelotti asks his wingers to do a LOT. Real Madrid tend to, regardless of manager, especially since there is such a target on their back when in possession. Wingers at Real Madrid must be able to win one-on-ones and perform explosive magic on the ball to break free against tight defenses.

Under Ancelotti, his wingers had to do that and also be quick in transition and industrious defensively. That’s not really Asensio’s game, especially not after his explosiveness was clearly sapped by a tragic ACL tear.

Even so, Asensio, as his 10 goals indicate, showed he can play a role against certain opponents and in certain kinds of games. Look no further than the way he dominated his old club, Mallorca.

Marco Asensio does not fit what Real Madrid asks from their wingers

The issue is that Asensio does not fit Real. He can’t win the one-on-ones, track back, or quickly get up the pitch to take advantage of transition opportunities. Behind the scenes, he seems fed up with having to fight for minutes. Asensio reminds me of Martin Odegaard a bit. He is a talented, technical playmaker whose role does not really fit Madrid, and he would prefer to be a guaranteed starter every game. He wants to be a big fish in a small pond, rather than a role player in Madrid.

And he can be a VERY big fish in a smaller pond. Asensio is being courted by teams in Serie A and the Premier League, and these leagues offer much better fits for him. He would have to track back less, get more space to work with, and have more shooting opportunities. And at smaller clubs like Newcastle or Milan, Asensio would get to be “the guy” every week and find a rhythm.

There are many people who look at Asensio’s skill-set, incredible goals, past accomplishments at Real Madrid pre-injury, and believe the No. 11 can still be world-class. Spanish national team coach Luis Enrique is one such believer. Thus far, Asensio has done very well for Spain, rewarding the ex-Barcelona coach and providing a strong audition to interesting parties.

Just 26, Asensio is entering his prime. During the season, Real Madrid fans laughed as Asensio talked about never feeling better, but this is true. He should be at another level mentally and technically, and he has figured out how to adjust his playing style after the ACL tear.

So Asensio can fulfill his potential as a true star in world football. That just has to happen in a different situation. Asensio needs a new team, a new league, and a new role that suits him. He needs less pressure and the confidence that his job is not under threat every week. Some players need a different environment schematically and personally to what Real Madrid can provide, and even though Asensio has been in Madrid for a while and had some massive Champions League highs years ago, it truly does seem like he must go elsewhere to fulfill his potential.

dark. Next. Why Aurelien Tchouameni was not too expensive for Real Madrid

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There is a nuance here. For as much as I have criticized Asensio and written week after week about how he cannot start if this team is to win the Champions League, I recognize the areas where his talent shines and see how those qualities can be maximized. It’s just that the ideal situation for Asensio is not at the Santiago Bernabeu. That much is clear to me. As much as I have been miscast as an Asensio hater, the reality is that I tell the truth. Because as harsh as it may seem, embracing the reality of the situation will lead to more success for both Real Madrid and Marco Asensio himself. Lying and playing the positive card is a slow burn to hell.