Valverde is untouchable for Zidane's new Real Madrid
Without the Uruguayan on the field, PSG scored their two goals and left the Bernabéu guaranteed first place in the group, and El Pajarito is now seen as key.
One of the takeaways of Real Madrid's impressive performance against PSG on Tuesday evening was Fede Valverde as protagonist. Los Blancos had everything under control with the Uruguayan on the park, dominating the pace of the encounter and pushing them ever-closer to a 3-0 rather than one that read 2-1. It was at that point that Zinedine Zidane decided to make some changes and Luka Modric came on as his replacement. Then came two goals in less than four minutes and top spot in the group disappeared.
Valverde key to Zidane's new Madrid
The Real Madrid manager spoke after the game about El Pájaro's contribution.
"We have all seen how he is a 'box-to-box' player," Zidane said, before adding, "capable of being in every position and with a great acceleration."
And the Frenchman's claims have been witnessed in more than just the PSG clash with seven wins and two draws in the game when Valverde has been in the starting line-up. In other words, the problem games for Madrid have come when the 21-year old was on the bench.
Related news | Valverde on cloud 9 in Real Madrid player ratings vs PSG
During the previous season Valverde only played 10 games as a starter. His position in the Madrid first team seemed to be of a limited nature, but the player himself asked to stay. His four ball recoveries in dangerous areas against the Parisian team on Tuesday were just more demonstration of his value to his side.
How 'El Pajarito' came to be
It was less than two years ago when Doris Valverde, mother of the midfielder, found out why her son was referred to as El Pajarito ('the little bird'). It came from the man who discovered the talent of Valverde, Néstor Gonçalves, who has always tried to explain that it was not an insult in any way, but actually quite the opposite.
"When I spoke with Doris, I said that her son flew across the pitch as if he was everywhere at the same time. Nobody really remembers how that nickname came up..."
At his old club Atlético Peñarol in Montevideo, there are some who believe that he will lift the Ballon d'Or trophy in the coming years. And they continue to watch his development in admiration from afar.
"Those of us who met Valverde in the lower ranks of the club are not astonished at what Federico is going through right now.
"He will continue to grow a lot and is one of the great talents of world football. All Peñaolenses and now all Uruguayans are proud of Federico's consolidation in football," says club president, Jorge Barrera.
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