“Marco Asensio has become a player who adds a couple of close-but-no-cigars to the highlights reel and that’s your lot,” said a colleague of mine on Spanish radio during Real Madrid’s clash with Granada on Sunday. It was a comment made after Asensio had been unsuccessful with a second decent shot, and we all agreed. As it turned out, however, the forward ended up proving rather more productive this time around: he had as many as eight attempts, six of which of which were on target, and one of which was unstoppable even for a goalkeeper playing as well as Luís Maximiano, who has the league’s highest save rate. In the absence of Karim Benzema and Vinícius Júnior, who are Madrid’s most consistent source of goals, Asensio clearly felt it was time he stepped up.
A lad who looked like he was going to be a world beater, Asensio has so far proved to be a classy but somewhat listless player, in a similar manner to former Madridistas Martín Vázquez and Guti. They’re both remembered fondly, but you can’t help feeling they could have done so much more. Asensio has been alternating with Rodrygo Goes as the loose nut in the Real Madrid attack. Whichever of the two has played, the machine hasn’t run quite right. They’ve maybe found the net here and there - Asensio more often than Rodrygo - but such goals have generally come when the points are as good as in the bag, on one of those late counterattacks with men over. Blows struck against an opponent already out for the count.
Asensio refuses to countenance anything but a win
Against Granada, though, Asensio did what for me defines a footballer who has what it takes to be a Real Madrid player: he simply refused to put up with the idea of not winning the game. He went at the visitors time and again, looking to create danger in that area just outside the penalty box. He has a great shot from that kind of range, and his persistence paid off when he finally beat Maximiano with a drive that was perfectly struck. Asensio has bags of ability; that’s clear. Let’s see if this performance spurs him on. Benzema spent years leaving it to Cristiano Ronaldo to get the job done, before changing his ways when the Portuguese left. He’s now flourished into a world-class performer. Asensio shouldn’t wait for him to depart; he, too, can blossom like Benzema.