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Cheryshev back in the Cup; Madrid still out


The Copa del Rey continues onwards and, curiously enough, Denis Cheryshev has been re-enlisted to take part, having unwittingly been the cause of Real Madrid’s premature elimination from the competition. This is a strange story indeed. Cheryshev, whose father made a name for himself during his Sporting Gijon playing days, was one of the standout talents at the Madrid youth academy. I still remember the first time I saw him action, at one of the many seven-a-side tournaments organised José Ramón de la Morena. I also recall meeting his father for the first time, at a dinner for three that included Tomás Roncero. His dream was to see his son succeed with the Russian national team and Real Madrid.

Cheryshev returned to Madrid with a one-match Cup ban following his loan spell at Villarreal but, given his parent club’s obsession with organising preseason tours and sculpting the Bernabeu in Florentino Pérez’s image, that information somehow slipped through the cracks. No one made any note of the sanction, the then 24–year-old started against Cádiz, scored a cracker and then the can of worms spilled open. A former referee from Galicia named Emilio Rosanes, whose attempts to alert the club to their mistake before kick off fell on deaf ears, informed Spanish radio station La COPE about the administrative oversight. On hearing the news Benítez stood dumbstruck, Butragueño rushed from the stands and Florentino started pointing his finger at any name that sprang to mind. Comical carry on.

Cheryshev’s time at Madrid was brief and catastrophic, which is a shame. He’s a good player: a highly motivated Russian international with a sweet left peg. However, Madrid shifted the blame for a whole catalogue of errors squarely on his shoulders. Villarreal expressed an interest in bringing the player back, but pettiness on Florentino’s part put a halt to that deal going through. Then at the last minute a solution presented itself in the form of Valencia, a team that have somehow stumbled their way into the semi-finals of the Cup. And, in yet another twist in the wacky world of football, Cheryshev could feature in tonight’s Cup tie, having been at the centre of Real Madrid’s unceremonious exit earlier in the season. The devil finds work for idle hands.