The Madrid radar
Another focal point on Saturday evening, as Real Madrid host Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabéu (20:45, CET), will be the presence and performance of Álvaro Odriozola. The 22-year-old defender is currently on Madrid’s radar and is reportedly a serious candidate to bolster their squad. The Basque-born right-back has a buy-out clause of 40 million euros, with his contract running until 2022. This evening will mark his first appearance at the Bernabeú and all eyes will be on his showing on the right side of La Real’s defence.
The exit of Danilo prompted Madrid to seek reinforcements in that position, and initially Zidane placed his faith in the talents of Achraf. However, a series of poor results and the Morocco international’s lack of experience in key games, particularly against Spurs at Wembley and the Copa del Rey exit at the hands of Leganés, have seen the Madrid technical team forced into a rethink.
On the rise
The Spanish full-back’s stock has risen quickly. After being handed his LaLiga debut in 2017, he has become a mainstay in his position, despite previously playing on the wing – a quality which has enabled him to offer attacking threat down the right side. Moreover, he was called up to the national side by Julen Lopetegui and impressed in his debut against Albania in October, making him a good bet to be on the plane to Russia in the summer.
Madrid are reportedly keen to hire his services before the World Cup, and the fear is that a string of eye-catching performances may awaken the interest of other clubs. This term, Odriozola has played 22 games in LaLiga (1,890 minutes) and four in the Europa League (360 minutes), playing the full 90 minutes in 20 of them – against Las Palmas he was sent off for two bookable offences. He also has four assists to his name (one against Madrid).