Federico Valverde or ‘Fede’ as he is nicknamed is on his way to becoming one of the best midfielders in the world and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar is the best platform to confirm such a status. Uruguay and coach Diego Alonso are rubbing their hands with joy when see how much the Real Madrid midfielder has grown in recent months.
The 24-year-old arrived at the biggest club in the world five years ago. He spent a season on loan at Deportivo La Coruna, then returned to the Santiago Bernabeu and bided his time. During all this time, he grew under the wing of players such as Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro, and today specialists talk about Valverde as a player of the present and the future for Los Blancos.
Valverde’s golden leg
Fede is a box-to-box player, a strong boy who has also started scoring goals. And what a success! Most are spectacular, generic goals. He is already in the top of the players with the most goals scored from outside the box in the current season. It has a relentless kick and has been advised to use it more often.
„There were a lot of people close to me who were quite right that I should take advantage of my shot and I’m doing that now and quite enjoying it. I like to strike it on the laces, it’s my best shot, but I also sometimes like to hit it with the inside of my foot when I feel confident and today I was lucky enough to catch the ball right. They always joke with me that one day I’ll break the ball”, said Valverde for the club’s official website, after he was the MVP of the match between Real Madrid and Celtic in the Champions League.
Ancelotti’s bet transformed Valverde
Carlo Ancelotti, his coach at the club, turned him into a goal scorer after making a bet with the player in the summer. The Italian manager has told him he is breaking his coaching card and retiring at the end of the season if the midfielder doesn’t score 10 or more goals by then.
„He has to have that responsibility. I think he will score more than ten goals this season. It is in an extraordinary dynamic. He is a very important player for us. The energy he has is incredible. He has to score ten goals”, said Ancelotti.
It’s a risk the manager has taken considering the Uruguayan had scored zero La Liga goals in 2021-22 and just six in 148 previous games for Madrid. In less than 20 games in the 2022/23 season, Valverde already scored 8 goals.
„I don’t want to be the reason for the coach’s retirement”, joked Fede after a La Liga goal against Elche in October. He produces not just goals for Real but also assists for teammates.
He wants to become the captain of Real Madrid one day
In the short term, Valverde’s aim is to keep scoring goals and help his team win more games and trophies. He seems unstoppable today. „That’s the way I operate: run and give everything”, claimed Valverde.
In the long term, Fede wants nothing more and nothing less than to become the leader of Real. „My long-term goal is to be the captain of Real Madrid”, said the player.
Fede Valverde’s explosion this season can also turn Uruguay into a real force at FIFA World Cup 2022. And his motivation is reaching the highest heights. „To play in a World Cup for Uruguay is my dream, to defend my country is the most beautiful thing there is. I played with Penarol, the team of my life. And I enjoyed every moment at Real Madrid, the best club in the world. But to defend my country on the pitch is incomparable”, said the Real Madrid midfielder.
La Celeste could be stronger than ever
He becomes a point of reference in the La Celeste team, which already contained several world stars, led by Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Meanwhile, other players have stepped up or are in top shape, such as Rodrigo Bentancur (Tottenham) and Darwin Nunez (Liverpool), so La Celeste could be stronger than ever.
La Celeste will play in one of the most balanced groups, with South Korea, Portugal, and Ghana. „The more difficult group the better. We need to face strong teams, we need something like this”, Valverde said.
He also declared that his national team is aspiring to become world champions at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. A bold dream, but not impossible.
Uruguay hasn’t won the FIFA World Cup since Brazil in 1950. Uruguay reached the semi-finals in 2010, and in 2018, in Russia, they played in the quarterfinals, being eliminated by France, the future world champion.