For quite a while now, Marco Asensio’s time at Real Madrid has seemed like a party which ended before it started. A long-term injury and a certain, inexplicable apathy snuffed out every trace of his spectacular start with the first team. He possessed a fierce, precise shot and managed the ball with clarity and confidence, but that’s long gone, his contributions are now just small brushstrokes on a canvas too large to fill. Asensio reminds me of those old photos that you come across by chance on Google, which evoke memories of the past. Images that are so lost in time that they’re sometimes uncomfortable to look at. Right now, Asensio is a work of art that nobody can touch, that nobody knows how to read. A package waiting in a warehouse to be shipped off to a new, unknown museum.
Some time ago, I wondered whether a demon had crept inside Marco Asensio’s head, it was as though there was something there that the rest of us couldn’t see. It is difficult to explain what happened to him, a phenomenon which only the enlightened can see - like the detectives in those American crime series who hire the services of a medium because they have reached a dead end. Because his is not a case of blatant indolence, like Bale’s, or a fondness for extracurricular activities, like Cassano. As much as the Ausencio tag has permeated collective consciousness as a definition of his woes; the truth is that Asensio has been anything but absent when it comes to fighting - striving to be the player he was before his serious injury. Actively and passively, he has tried to summon that stunning version of himself - but to no avail.
Now, Asensio has asked Jorge Mendes to find him a new club because he wants more playing time. But as things stand, accomplished that will be anything but easy - even for the most persuasive, hard-dealing agent in the world. There is no doubt that the player has talent and there is a market for him; and that the intermittent confidence which Luis Enrique gives him with the national team will play in his favor. But it’s like building a house from the roof down. There are so many maybes - if he had seized the hundreds of chances he has been given at Real Madrid, if he had been more brazen on the pitch, if a young Rodrygo hadn’t popped up and robbed him of his place... Perhaps if everything had happened differently, the playing time and the promotion would have come naturally, with ease - as easily and effortlessly as Asensio looked with the ball at his feet when he first started out.