Éder Militão: From record buy to forgotten man at Real Madrid
The club's most expensive defensive signing at 50m euros, Éder Militão is yet to prove his worth at Real Madrid as he prepares to deputise at right-back.
Not even Brazil head coach Tite, who has shown unwavering faith in Éder Militão since first calling him up in September 2018 (more than Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, at least) rates the defender as a right-back. However, it's a role he looks odds-on to fulfil against Real Betis on Sunday.
"I prefer him at centre-back," Tite said last year. "At full-back, he'd have difficulties in attack." Militão has played in both positions during his career, but it was as a central defender that he shone sufficiently at Porto to persuade Madrid to spend 50 million euros on him last summer.
In buying Militão, Madrid were looking for the kind of transfer masterstroke they pulled off with another purchase from Porto. When they signed Pepe for 30 million euros in 2007, it was seen as an extremely hefty sum to be forking out for a central defender. However, Pepe went on to go down in Madrid history, forming a partnership with Sergio Ramos which - before Raphaël Varane established himself at the Bernabéu - was the initial bedrock of Los Blancos' successes of recent years.
So far, though, things have gone rather differently for Militão, who has played just 12 games since arriving in Spain.
He is, by some margin, the costliest defender in Madrid's history, having cost 20 million more than Pepe, Fábio Coentrão, Danilo and Álvaro Odriozola, the club's next-most expensive backline recruits. What's more, he is the seventh-priciest defender in the world, behind Harry Maguire (87 million), Virgil van Dijk (85), Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy (70), and Kyle Walker and John Stones (55).
Militão played 15 games at right-back for Porto in 2018/19
It was Pepe's return to Porto in January 2019 that forced Militão to move to the right at the Dragões, the Brazilian going on to play 15 times in the position last season. Three of those games were in high-profile fixtures: both legs of the Champions League last-16 tie with Roma, and the quarter-final return against Liverpool. At Madrid, he has had a five-minute cameo at left-back after Ferland Mendy's sending-off against Espanyol in December, but is yet to play on the right.
Now, the injury absences of Dani Carvajal and Nacho Fernández, coupled with Odriozola's January loan move to Bayern Munich, have given Militão a way back into the team. The 22-year-old needs to start showing Real Madrid that, as with Pepe, they made no mistake when they dug deep for his services.